By Fred Cicetti, ConsumerAffairs.com
Flu season in the northern hemisphere can range from as early as November to as late as May. The peak month usually is February.
However, this coming season is expected to be unpredictable because of the emergence of the H1N1 influenza virus or swine flu. The H1N1 has caused the first global outbreak—pandemic—of influenza in more than four decades.
There is concern that the 2009 H1N1 virus may make the season worse than a regular flu season. It is feared that there will be many more hospitalizations and fatalities this season. The 2009 H1N1 virus caused illness in the U.S. during the summer months when influenza is very uncommon.
The 2009-10 flu vaccine protects against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. The seasonal vaccine is not expected to protect against the 2009 H1N1 virus. A vaccine for 2009 H1N1 is being produced and may be ready for the public in the fall.
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