The following is an excerpt from MedPage Today.
Influenza hospitalizations this early in the season are higher than they have been in a decade, according to the CDC, with 14 pediatric deaths reported so far.
"Since October 1, there have already been at least 8.7 million illnesses, 78,000 hospitalizations, and 4,500 deaths from flu," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, on a call with reporters on Monday, held in part to kick off National Influenza Vaccination Week.
Flu hospitalizations nearly doubled the week of Thanksgiving (19,593) compared with the prior week (11,378) and are close to 40 times higher than the same week last year (495).
"Hospitalizations for flu continue to be the highest we have seen at this time of year in a decade," Walensky added.
"It's a perfect storm for a terrible holiday season," warned Sandra Fryhofer, MD, an internist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta and chair of the American Medical Association board.
"The only thing worse than getting flu once in a season is getting it again," Fryhofer explained. "You should still get vaccinated once you recover from acute illness to keep from getting it again with a different flu strain."
This year, influenza vaccines are "well matched to the viruses currently circulating," she added. The flu shots contain protection for two influenza A and two influenza B virus strains.
Of influenza A viruses detected and subtyped this season, 79% have been A(H3N2) and 21% have been A(H1N1).
The CDC recommends influenza vaccination particularly for children, immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women, and people 65 and over.
So far this year, vaccine uptake is about 12% lower in pregnant women and 5% lower in children than at this time last season.
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