[The Morning Call] The flu's rampage through the Lehigh Valley has entered its fourth week with little sign of abating any time soon. "We're probably going to see a fair amount of flu for the next few weeks," warned Dr. Jeffrey Jahre, St. Luke's University Health Network's chief of infectious diseases. Both St. Luke's and Lehigh Valley Health Network, the region's two biggest health-care providers, reported sustained, heavy emergency room traffic. Circulating is a particularly nasty strain of the flu called A-H3N2 — against which the vaccine offers little protection.
The government last week made clear how little protection: The vaccine is only 23 percent effective — one of the worst performances in the last decade — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The vaccine is prepared months in advance of the flu season, based on health experts' forecast of what strains are likely to be prevalent. The forecast, however, can be off — sometimes a little, sometimes more so, as was the case this time.
The CDC describes the flu as "widespread" — the agency's highest designation — throughout nearly the entire country, including Pennsylvania. Read on.