Yes, This Flu Season Is Worse Than Usual


Or at least earlier than usual. The map above was created by’s Flu Trends initiative, a non-profit wing of the very much for-profit Google. It tracks search terms which it deems good indicators of flu activity, then uses aggregated Google search data to estimate flu activity. As you can see, the flu is peaking right now, more than a month earlier than average, and at a much more intense rate.

Now, this could mean a few things. One: people are just taking to the internet more than ever, and thereby searching “cough” and “fever” and “WHY ISN’T SEASON FIVE OF BREAKING BAD ON NETFLIX INSTANT YOU ANIMALS?” more than ever. But I assume the folks at Google have worked that into their search matrixes. The other meaning: this is a very, very bad flu season, and you should probably go get a flu shot if you haven’t already. If you need more proof, here’s a map of Texas’ flu season thus far:

Source: Texas Department of State Health Services

So, as of Dec. 29 (latest data) Dallas County was one of only 10 counties in Texas to confirm both of this year’s most common strains of the flu. And Texas’ flu outbreak is considered “widespread” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Probably time for a shot.


  • Bruce

    Did the CDC state if the strain of flu virus affecting people is covered by the flu shot?
    I have read that it does and doesn’t in conflicting news reports.

    • BradfordPearson

      Good question. The shot doesn’t cover *all* strains of the flu, and there’s – I think – a two-week incubation period when you still can get sick. Still, it’s probably better than nothing.

  • Dubious Brother

    For a good laugh go to the CDC FQA page for the official doublespeak runaround no direct answer to the questions that they pose themselves. To save you time, they won’t know if the flu shot is effective until after the flu season is over – translation, after all the flu shots have been sold and the flu season is over, everyone will forget about it until next year when they make their pitch again to buy a shot that is made a year before the flu strain is known and has an unknown effectiveness %.

  • Sarah Bennett

    Women’s Health mag recently posted a headline entitled “Could This Be the Worst Flu Season EVER?” Ya know, except for that pandemic in 1918. I mean, fact checking really is optional these days, isn’t it?