Oregon braces for severe flu season

Hospitalizations up; vaccine good match to 'swine flu'

By Jordana Gustafson, Oregon Public Broadcasting
POSTED: 5:52 PM PST December 31, 2013 
CDC confirms 40 U.S. swine flu cases; alert level raised
PORTLAND, Ore. -

Oregon is bracing for a severe flu season. The predominant flu strain so far this year is H1N1 – that’s the pandemic strain that swept the country in 2009. It’s commonly known as “swine flu.”

Hospitalizations due to the flu spiked in Oregon this past week – 98 people are in the hospital in the greater Portland area, compared to around 60 the previous week.

That’s according to Dr. Paul Cieslak, medical director of Oregon’s immunization program.

Cieslak said this year’s flu vaccine is a good match to protect against H1N1 and that people should get inoculated.

"The people most likely to end up in hospital are least likely to respond to the vaccine," Cieslak said. "So it’s important to their health that everyone around them get vaccinated so that we get so-called 'herd immunity.' Even if you don’t die yourself, you could give the flu to somebody else who might die from it."

The elderly are typically the most critically affected, but Cieslak said those hospitalized this year cut across the age spectrum.

Cieslak predicted Oregon has two hard months left of the flu season.