Flu season is underway in Maine, and state epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett says the dominant strain this year — influenza A — is particularly virulent.
“We’re seeing a lot more influenza hospitalizations this year than we did last year at this time. So, that’s a bit of concern,” she says. "Over 80 percent are influenza A, and that's going on throughout the U.S. It's not just Maine."
Through Dec. 23, 99 people were hospitalized with the flu. At the same time last year, 12 people were hospitalized.
"It is hitting the people who are 65 and older the hardest. In fact, that's the primary age group where we're seeing more hospitalizations," Bennett says.
She says young children are also at higher risk. To ward off the flu, Bennett says wash your hands, cover your cough, and get vaccinated.
She says this year's vaccine is about 30 percent effective against influenza A. If it doesn't prevent it, she says, it can still help reduce symptoms.