Now is the time to stock up on cough syrup and ginger tea (although maybe not Tylenol). Reports from the Southern Hemisphere indicate that this year's flu vaccine is only about 10 percent effective, the Chicago Tribune reports, with experts bracing for an especially brutal season since the dominant strain is the particularly severe H3N2. "Typically in years when the predominant strain is H3N2, there are more hospitalizations, more severe disease, and people tend to get sicker," Dr. Michael Ison of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine told NBC News.
Australia recorded record-high flu cases during its peak season this year, which coincides with summer in America. Worst of all, the Aussies use the same vaccine that is distributed stateside, indicating that shots this year are not especially effective. The flu is already spreading fast in the United States, too, with outbreaks in Louisiana, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Massachusetts. "Last winter there were none at this time," NBC News reports.
There is still good news for anyone who braved their flu shot — and good incentive for others to get theirs right away. "While vaccinated people can still get sick, generally they get a milder and less dangerous form of the illness," NBC writes. Plus, "the protection against [other flu strains] is much higher," the Centers for Disease Control's Dr. William Schaffner said. "Fifty to 70 percent."