The flu vaccine may only be 36% effective, but it could significantly decrease your chance of a heart attack. Tony Spitz has the details.
The worst flu season in a decade is still not over, with 13 new children deaths reported after more than three months of unusually persistent misery across the U.S.
The numbers were “encouraging,” especially the data showing a decline in visits to the doctor’s office for anyone with flu-like symptoms, said CDC spokeswoman Kristin Nordlund. These visits made up 6.4% of trips to the doctor, down from 7.5% of visits the previous week.
“It looks like we may have reached the peak of flu season,” says Nordlund.
The decrease in child deaths from 22 the week before by itself was not necessarily a sign the severe flu season was abating, however, as each week’s total from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes deaths from earlier in the season.
Even though there was a decrease in the number of states reporting high levels of flu, more than half of the country is still reporting high levels of activity. There was also an increase in reports of the less deadly B strain.
That leads Nordlund to note, “it looks like we still have many more weeks of flu season to go,” adding that it could last until mid-April.
The flu remained widespread in 48 states, according to the CDC’s latest report Friday. In the last severe flu season, during 2014-2015, 148 children died. The flu also killed an estimated 56,000 people, mostly older adults, that season.
Most of the children who have died this year, as in past years, have not been vaccinated. The CDC does not keep exact counts of adult flu deaths.
All 10 regions reported flu-like illness reports that were at or above baseline levels in the areas. New York City, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and 39 states experienced high flu-like visits.
It’s definitely not too late to get a flu shot, which remains highly recommended. “As long as flu is circulating,” you can catch the flu so the vaccine is recommended.
This year’s flu vaccines are preventing about 36% of flu cases in vaccinated people but are working better, at a rate of about 59%, in young children, according to the CDC. The vaccines are about 25% less effective at preventing illnesses caused by the dominant virus behind this year’s epidemic, CDC reported last week.
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