flushotThe 2014-2015 flu season is “severe,” especially for those 65 and over, children under 5 years old and those with other medical conditions, warned Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta in a teleconferenced media briefing Friday. Frieden also admitted the flu vaccine this season has been particularly ineffective, largely because the virus has mutated to a virulent strain of the H3N2 virus that is not included in the vaccine. About two-thirds of the H3N2 viruses analyzed this season are different from the H3N2 virus that is included in this year’s CDC-approved flu vaccine.  On Jan. 5, the CDC reported that with about half the 15-week flu season now gone, 43 states are expecting widespread high flu activity. Patient visits to the doctor for influenza-like illnesses, ILI, now are almost even with the peak of the 2012-2013 season, the last time H3N2 viruses predominated. For the week ending Dec. 27, overall flu-related hospitalizations were 12.6 per 100,000 people, which is comparable to the 13.3 per 100,000 overall hospitalization rate seen during the same week of the 2012-2013 season but higher than the 8.9 per 100,000 rate observed during week 52 of 2013-2014, which was an H1N1-predominant season. More