The flu season has arrived in the US after taking last year off.
Hospitalizations are rising and two child deaths have been reported according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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“This is setting itself up to be more of a normal flu season,” said Lynnette Brammer, who tracks flu-like illnesses for the CDC. She told AP news that the childhood deaths were “unfortunately what we would expect when flu activity picks up. It’s a sad reminder of how severe flu can be.”
Breitbart reports: During last year’s unusually light flu season, one child died. In contrast, 199 children died from flu two years ago, and 144 the year before that.
According to the AP report, the most intense flu activity is in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., and the number of states with high flu activity rose from three to seven.
In CDC figures released Monday, states with high flu activity are New Mexico, Kansas, Indiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Dakota.
Some 2,500 cases from clinical tests nationwide were reported for the week that ended Dec. 11. That number is typical for this time of year, but it also represents a level of cases that have not been seen since, before the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Times reports.
Last year’s break from the flu made it more challenging to plan for this year’s flu vaccine. So far, it looks like what’s circulating is in a slightly different subgroup from what the vaccine targets, but it’s “really too early to know” whether that will blunt the vaccine’s effectiveness, Brammer said.
“We’ll have to see what the impact of these little changes” will be, Brammer said. “Flu vaccine is your best way to protect yourself against flu.”
There are early signs fewer people are getting flu shots compared with last year, according to CDC numbers. With hospitals already stretched by a coronavirus and its omicron variant, it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot and take other precautions, Brammer said.