After a year of delay, the U.S. flu season is back on track. Flu hospitalizations have increased and there are two deaths in children.
The flu season last year was the most severe ever recorded. This is likely due to COVID-19 measures (school closures, distancing masks, and canceled travel) that prevented the spread of influenza or because other viruses were somehow ignored by the coronavirus.
Lynnette Brammer is a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specialist who tracks flu-like illness for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Brammer stated that the number of children who die from flu-related complications is “unfortunately higher than we would have expected.” It is a stark reminder of the severity of the flu.
One child died last year during an unusually mild flu season. One child died of flu in comparison to 199 who died two years ago and 144 last year.
According to the latest data, Washington, D.C., was the epicenter of flu activity. The number of states experiencing high flu activity jumped from three to seven. According to CDC data released Monday, states that have high flu activity include New Mexico, Kansas, and Indiana.
Brammer stated that the virus most likely to cause severe disease this year is the type that circulated in the elderly, particularly among the very young.
The flu season ended last year making it harder to plan for the new flu vaccine. Brammer stated that although it appears that the flu virus is in a subgroup other than the ones the vaccine targets, it’s still too early to determine if this will affect the vaccine’s effectiveness.
Brammer stated that “we’ll have to wait and see what the effect of these small changes” will be. The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the flu.
Early signs indicate that fewer people are receiving flu shots than last year. Brammer stated that it is more important than ever to get flu shots and take other precautions because hospitals are already stretched by COVID-19.
Cover your cough. Wash your hands. Stay home if you’re sick,” Brammer said. Talk to your doctor if you have the flu. These antivirals can help prevent serious illness and keep you out of the hospital.
This post was written by a medical professional at The Wellness Firm. The Wellness Firm provides onsite Flu Shots, onsite rapid COVID event testing, employee physical examination, as well as American Heart Association CPR certification classes. We have professionals that provide in-person hands-on, quality training.