The early nature of the cases in the 2012-2013 flu season, as well as the specific strains being seen, suggests this could be a bad flu year, according to CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, who announced the news in a press conference last week. Frieden note this season is the earliest on record since the 2003-2004 flu season, which was a “severe flu year.”
The predominant organism is H3N2, which is generally associated with more severe flu seasons, Frieden said.
“The only thing we know for certain, besides [the] unpredictability [of the flu], is that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself,” he said. “We’re at a very similar level of vaccination to last year. We did not see shortages of vaccine last year. We’re not hearing about shortages this year.”
Frieden added that this year’s strains look to be a great match with this year’s vaccine, of which 123 million doses have been sent out to providers.