Officials Say End of This Very Long Flu Season Is in Sight

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The number of people visiting the doctor with what looks like the flu has declined sharply for the second week in a row, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officials warned that the flu virus is still in circulation and will stick around for several more months, looking for more victims.

"Where we are at now is still the peak we saw last season", Nordlund said.

"This year the flu has been widespread, impacting millions of patients across the country, and leading to a new record number of flu-related hospitalizations", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in a news release.

Speaking of vaccines: The FDA met on Thursday to start working on next year's flu shot.

Demand for a universal vaccine escalated this year as the nation struggled through the worst flu season in 10 years.

Flu-linked hospitalization rates continued to rise - from 74.5 per 100,000 people for the week ending February 17, to 81.7 per 100,000 people for the week ending February 24, the CDC data showed. In the United States, an interim season report found that the vaccine was just 36% effective in preventing the flu.

The agency says that there are no legally marketed over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to prevent or cure the flu, while the legal OTC products can only reduce fever and relieve muscle aches, congestion and other symptoms typically associated with the flu. But the vaccine is our first line of defense against the flu, so having another choice for getting vaccinated is definitely welcome-especially when it doesn't involve needles.

"We could have another cycle come through", said Michael Anthony "Tony" Moody, chief medical officer of Duke University's Vaccine Institute. "That particular strain, the Singapore strain, does seem to do a better job of covering circulating viruses than the one we have this year", Webby said.

Through the season, state officials have implored residents to get flu shots, holding free and low cost vaccination clinics. Against Flu A, it had a 25 percent effectiveness while it was 42 percent effective against Flu B.

For instance, the vaccine is 67 percent effective against the H1N1 flu, which was the 2009 pandemic flu and is still around. "Unfortunately, they all take time", Webby said.

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