Flu hospitalizations are the highest in a decade as experts warn that other variants of Covid and respiratory illnesses are on the rise.
Flu-related cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all at a decade high, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Friday, adults over 65 and young children being the most affected.
Were seeing the highest hospitalization rates for the flu in a decade, Jos Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during Friday’s briefing. We also report the second flu-related pediatric death of the season.
As the weekend approached, there were at least 1,600,000 cases, 13,000 hospitalizations and 730 deaths from the flu, more than the usual number of cases at this time of year.
The rise in flu cases comes as hospitals also battle respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Covid variants that evade immunity from previous infection or vaccination.
Hospitals feeling the pressure of rising admissions are urging community members to get vaccinated in the winter and keep the number of serious illnesses as low as possible.
But flu vaccinations have declined, with 5 million fewer flu shots given to American adults than last year, Reuters reported.
Flu vaccination rates have also declined among pregnant women, Reuters reported, a worrying trend given that vaccination protects both parent and baby.
Health experts said it only appears flu season has arrived earlier than in previous years, and the severity of the spread of respiratory disease this winter was not immediately clear.
Right now, we didn’t see anything that would lead us to believe it’s more serious, said Lynnette Brammer, CDC team leader for national influenza surveillance. Brammer added that it’s still early days because most winter illnesses tend to peak in December and January, NBC News reported.
There is no doubt that we will face challenges this winter, said Dawn OConnell, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Preparedness and Response. OConnell also added that the flu’s early onset doesn’t necessarily mean a more severe season.
The southern regions of the United States are currently the most affected by the flu, ABC News reported. Texas, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Maryland, Mississippi, Georgia and Virginia have all reported high levels of flu-like illnesses.
New York and Washington DC have similar levels.
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