CDC Stresses Flu Vaccine as Deaths, Hospitalizations Rise

January 22, 2020

Flu vaccine effectiveness data are not available yet, but the latest flu-related death and hospitalization estimates are in.

The CDC is continuing to stress the importance of getting the influenza vaccine as deaths and hospitalizations remain high.

There have been at least 13 million flu illnesses, 120,000 hospitalizations, and 6600 deaths from the flu this season, the CDC estimates in its Weekly US Influenza Report Surveillance Report for the week ending January 11.

“Flu vaccine effectiveness estimates are not available yet this season, but vaccination is always the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications,” the CDC said in the report.

The percentage of deaths from pneumonia and influenza increased from 6% to 6.9% for the week, but “remains below the epidemic threshold,” CDC said. The overall hospitalization rate was 19.9 per 100,000 population–similar to recent previous influenza seasons at this time of year.

Seven flu-associated pediatric deaths have been reported to the CDC since late December. “All 7 were associated with influenza B viruses that did not have a lineage determined,” CDC noted.

Although visits to health care providers for influenza-like illnesses declined from 5.7% to 4.7% during the week ending January 11, all regions remain above their baselines, according to the CDC.

Almost all (>99%) of the influenza viruses tested this season are susceptible to the 4 FDA-approved influenza antiviral medications recommended for use in the United States this season. “Antiviral medications are an important adjunct to flu vaccine in the control of influenza,” the CDC emphasized.

Nationally, influenza B/Victoria viruses are the most commonly reported influenza viruses among children age 0 to 4 years old (47% of reported viruses) and 5 to 24 years old (57% of reported viruses), whereas A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses are the most commonly reported influenza viruses among persons 25 to 64 years of age (46% of reported viruses) and 65 years of age and older (53% of reported viruses).

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