The U.S. flu season has arrived on schedule after taking a yr off, with flu hospitalizations rising and two little one deaths reported.
Final yr’s flu season was the bottom on document, most likely as a result of COVID-19 measures — equivalent to faculty closures, distancing, masks and canceled journey — prevented the unfold of influenza or as a result of the coronavirus by some means pushed apart different viruses.
“That is setting itself as much as be extra of a traditional flu season,” mentioned Lynnette Brammer, who tracks flu-like diseases for the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.
The childhood deaths, Brammer mentioned, are “sadly what we’d count on when flu exercise picks up. It is a unhappy reminder of how extreme flu could be.”
Throughout final yr’s unusually gentle flu season, one little one died. In distinction, 199 kids died from flu two years in the past, and 144 the yr earlier than that.
Within the latest information, probably the most intense flu exercise was within the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., and the variety of states with excessive flu exercise rose from three to seven. In CDC figures launched Monday, states with excessive flu exercise are New Mexico, Kansas, Indiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, Georgia and North Dakota.
The kind of virus circulating this yr tends to trigger the most important quantity of extreme illness, particularly within the aged and the very younger, Brammer mentioned.
Final yr’s break from the flu made it more difficult to plan for this yr’s flu vaccine. To date, it seems like what’s circulating is in a barely totally different subgroup from what the vaccine targets, however it’s “actually too early to know” whether or not that may blunt the vaccine’s effectiveness, Brammer mentioned.
“We’ll must see what the affect of those little adjustments” will likely be, Brammer mentioned. “Flu vaccine is your greatest solution to defend your self in opposition to flu.”
There are early indicators that in contrast with final yr’s figures, fewer persons are getting flu pictures. With hospitals already stretched by COVID-19, it is extra necessary than ever to get a flu shot and take different precautions, Brammer mentioned.
“Cowl your cough. Wash your arms. Keep house in case you’re sick,” Brammer mentioned. “When you do get flu, there are anti-virals you’ll be able to speak to your physician about that may forestall extreme sickness and enable you to keep out of the hospital.”