Influenza gains momentum: 3000 Americans have already died from the virus this year
The flu season started early this year, and experts predict the situation will worsen. Nearly 3000 people have already died from the flu. Authorities urge people, especially the elderly, to get vaccinated, reports FoxNews.
"Seasonal influenza activity is elevated across the country," the health agency said in a statement.
This year, more than 2900 people, including 12 children, have died from the flu since October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The agency said about 53 people have been hospitalized with the flu this season.
The cumulative admission rate this year is "higher than the rate seen at week 46 in every previous season from 2010 to 2011," the report notes.
Flu season typically peaks in the late winter months, the CDC notes.
“This is a tough and early flu season in terms of hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Mark Siegel, professor of medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York.
“There are several reasons, including the fact that this is a dangerous strain of influenza. We've had very mild flu seasons in the last few years, so our partial immunity from previous exposure is gone and flu shots are down," he said.
“I find that our immune systems are a little slower to respond due to lockdowns, masks and more,” said Dr. Mark Siegel.
He noted that the flu season "usually peaks" in January-February, but "in many states it is already at a high level."
Three states — Texas, New Mexico, and Tennessee — have the highest levels of influenza-like illness (ILI) activity, according to the CDC.
Eight more states, as well as the District of Columbia, are in second place for ILI activity.
Only four states - Alaska, Michigan, New Hampshire and Vermont - have a "minimum" level of ILI activity, the CDC notes.
The vast majority of influenza types identified are influenza A subtypes, accounting for 99,3% of influenza specimens tested. Influenza B accounts for the remaining 0,7%.
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“Of influenza A viruses detected and subtyped this season, 78% were influenza A(H3N2) and 22% were influenza A(H1N1),” the CDC said in a statement.
The agency recommends that all people older than six months get the flu vaccine. "Now is the time to get vaccinated if you haven't already," the agency said.
The flu is most dangerous for people aged 65 and over, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain health problems, including heart and lung disease.
This year, people aged 65 and over are strongly encouraged to take the special flu vaccine for added protection.
Seniors are strongly encouraged to get Fluzone High-Dose, Flublok, or Fluad Adjuvinated this year.
Fluzone High-Dose and Flublok contain higher doses of the main anti-flu ingredient, while Fluad Adjuvanted contains an additional specialty ingredient that helps boost people's immune response.
Older people can and should ask their doctor about flu vaccinations.
If a specific vaccine is not available for older people, they should get the standard flu shot.
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