BUFFALO, NY - Medical experts nationally have been saying that this flu season has been a tough one. And locally, doctors are saying they're seeing more patients visiting them because of flu-like symptoms.
"Right now, I would say that our incidents of influenza are the region is actually pretty high," said Dr. Kevin Shiley, a physician director at Catholic Health, who says there have been more confirmed cases of the flu that Catholic Health has seen this week, compared to this time a year ago.
132 positive cases of the flu this past week -- compared to just 30 last year.
"That's a pretty substantial increase," he said.
And, is such a concern that Catholic Health has temporarily restricted minors 14 years old and younger from visiting their facilities.
Right now, New York State characterizes influenza as "widespread" - the same was the case at this time last year. But, a year before that, it was less severe. And there are a lot of reasons it changes year-to-year.
"Certainly in New York State, particularly in this region, we do have an aging population and the aging population does equal high risk of complication and acquisition of influenza," Shiley said.
And there are questions about the vaccine itself.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, this year's vaccine may only be 10 percent effective, despite the work of a lot of doctors to predict which viruses it should protect against.
"That doesn't always work, and when there is a mismatch between the vaccines we do tend to see higher failure of the vaccine," Shiley said.
But according to Dr. Shiley the effectiveness of the vaccine won't be known for a few months and that this doesn't mean most adults shouldn't get the vaccine.
"We do know that people that have been vaccinated for influenza even if they get influenza tend to have much lower risk of complications from the disease," Shiley said.
Nationally, at this time last year 12 states reported the flu as widespread. Now, 46 states, including New York, report the flu as being widespread. Heath experts say that infants younger than six months should not get the flu vaccine.