CDC Declares Flu Epidemic, but Vaccine Is Still Available January 14, 2015 By Cait Hartwyk Leave a Comment The Centers for Disease Control has officially deemed this flu season to have hit the epidemic threshold, meaning that the flu is maintaining a high level of spread throughout the nation. According to the CDC, only four states (California, Hawaii, Alaska and Oregon) have a lower rate of spread than the region average. It is also noteworthy that at least 15 pediatric deaths have occurred to date nationwide. The fact that influenza has hit the epidemic threshold is not in itself unexpected, as it does so virtually every year. However, epidemic levels of spread are generally reached in January or February, not in late December, as occurred this flu season. The CDC believes a major reason for this change is a combination of lack of vaccination and ‘drift strains,’ or variants of the flu virus that are slightly different from what the vaccine was designed to protect against. Both of these factors underscore the importance of early flu vaccination. “Vaccinating yourself against influenza is the most important preventative measure you can take,” says Melanie Kohr, Vice-President of Clinic Operations for Passport Health. “It isn’t too late to be immunized, and flu shots are still available at Passport Health clinics nationwide.” Kohr acknowledges that receiving a shot as soon as possible is best as the vaccine can take anywhere from two to four weeks to go into full effect. Multiple flu vaccines are currently on the market, ensuring that almost anyone can receive a flu vaccine. Be sure to consult with a care provider (doctor, nurse, or representative at an on-site clinic) about what specific vaccine would be best for your health situation. For more information on flu vaccination and protection visit Passport Health’s flu focused website, FluFree.com. For more information on influenza spread see Passport Health’s weekly Flu Report. For more information on influenza, flu vaccines and flu safety, visit FluFree.com or contact a Passport Health specialist at 1-844-FLU-FREE.