Valley doctors weigh in on flu season - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Valley doctors weigh in on flu season

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Experts say there's already been a relatively high number of influenza-like illnesses this year, and that could mean this year's flu season will be a bad one.

With many different strains of the virus, The CDC uses the southern hemisphere to predict which strain of the flu may impact the US most in the upcoming flu season. 

This year, Australia has had H3N2 as the most prominent strain, which the current flu vaccines are only 10% effective against.

Chief Clinical Officer at Mercy Health, Dr. James Kravec, said despite these statistics, it is still a good idea to get the vaccine.

"With the flu vaccine, although it focuses on the top three or top four strains, it still gives immunity for some of the illness that you will experience with the flu," said Dr. Kravec. "So you still should get the flu vaccine because if, or when, you do get sick it's going to be a less severe influenza."

Children as young as six-months-old can get the vaccine. However, if you or your child does get the flu, rest and hydration are key.

Local pediatrician Dr. John Cox said children should stay home for at least two days after having a fever of 101 degrees.  "If that kid doesn't have a fever, but they are still just wiped out just laying around, that kid is going to be susceptible to even getting hit by another virus. Nothing in the world says you can't get hit by two viruses," said Cox.

Though the flu usually clears up on its own, there can be complications.

It is important for parents to watch for signs such as fevers that aren't dropping, or if the kid is not drinking or urinating.  Cox says those are "signs that they need to be seen sooner rather than later."

Peak flu season usually lasts through the end of winter. Though doctors say the flu shot is the best defense against the virus, other preventative measures include eating and sleeping well, frequent hand washing, and covering coughs.

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