So yes, that was quite the flu season, but it looks like we are finally past the peak! Here's the most recent report from the CDC (data as of March 2nd):
This season is the red line. So you can see, the last two weeks it is finally declining. You can also see it rivals the swine flu season of 2009-10! But here's some take-home points that we should learn from this year:
No one has a crystal ball. The reports from the beginning of the season that the flu shot was only going to be 10% effective so far look to be off base. Early reports are that, depending on the strain, it was 20-60% effective, about average for a flu shot. Early reports that it was going to be a humdinger of a season were right, but there's some luck there too. Look at the pink line in the graph; that is from three seasons ago. It followed this year's line perfectly, and I remember the same reports going around about how bad that season was going to be, but then around January 1st it did an about face and turned out to be a more average season.
"Effectiveness" is not the whole story. Those numbers only capture whether the shot prevented people from catching the flu. What it doesn't capture is that even for those people who do catch it despite having been vaccinated, their illness tends to be on the milder side. So there is still some benefit, or it still "works" even when it "didn't work". Therefore....
Get your flu shot! We gave 7500 flu shots this year, a record for us!