Published: Mon, February 18, 2019
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Eight more flu-related deaths last week: CDC

Eight more flu-related deaths last week: CDC

Secondary Source Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Source Reference: Blanton L, et al "Update: Influenza Activity - United States, September 30, 2018-February 2, 2019" MMWR 2019; Vol 68, No. 6, p125-134. Because viruses mutate, flu vaccines don't perfectly protect against them.

Last season, the CDC estimated 80,000 Americans died of the flu and its complications.

This year's flu shot is already outperforming the vaccine issued during the tough 2017-2018 influenza season, federal health officials reported Thursday. Although influenza A H1N1 viruses have been most common across the nation, H3N2 viruses are predominating in the Southeast.

This was the third flu-related death of a child in the state, a spokeswoman with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said. The vaccine's overall effectiveness in kids is 61 percent this season. Webby of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and one of a select group of scientists responsible for making recommendations on the composition of flu vaccines each year.

The two youngest people with severe flu were aged two and four, and had not been vaccinated, CDC physician Lin Yung-ching (林詠青) said. "Perhaps not surprising, but what we're finding is that vaccinating more people would prevent much more flu, but the impact of increasing coverage is a bit different by age". Health officials are generally pleased if a flu vaccine works in 40 to 60 percent of people.

In a separate MMWR report today on the United States flu season so far, CDC scientists said severity as yet has been low, in contrast to the 2017-18 season, which was severe, much of it attributed to H3N2.

"Vaccination [during 2017-2018] was estimated to prevent 7.1 million illnesses, 3.7 million medical visits, 109,000 hospitalizations and 8,000 deaths", Doyle's team reported.

For more about the flu, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, the vaccine's effective rate was 32 percent.

The 2017-2018 flu season was the most severe since the 2009 pandemic, and the investigators stressed the role of the flu vaccine in reducing the impact. The CDC recommends flu shots for almost every American older than six months of age, with few exceptions.

The virus' severity this season compared with last has been low, with a smaller percentage of doctor's office visits, lower rates of hospitalization and fewer deaths through February 2, the CDC reports. But if you're sick, the CDC recommends that you stay home so you don't infect others.

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