CDC Reports that Flu Activity is Elevated; Please Keep Vaccinating your Patients

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated in its Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report, FluView, that as of the week ending December 22, influenza activity was increasing in the U.S. Four influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported to CDC during week 51, for a total of 11 influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported for the 2018–2019 season. Last season, there was a record-setting number of pediatric deaths in the U.S. (172), so be sure to protect all your patients for whom vaccination is recommended.

On December 21, CDC published a report online titled 2018–2019 Flu Season: Flu Activity Elevated Nationally. Two paragraphs from this article are reprinted below.

It’s too soon to make any assessment about this season’s severity, however since this H1N1 virus emerged in 2009, it has been associated with significant illness and severe illness among young children. At this point, most flu activity has been driven by illness in school-aged children, and hospitalization rates among children younger than 5 years old (7.7 per 100,000) are now the highest among all age groups. Usually, adults 65 years and older have the highest hospitalization rates. For comparison purposes, the last two H1N1 predominant seasons were 2013–2014 and 2015–2016 and the hospitalization rates among children younger than 5 years old for the same week were 7.2 per 100,000 and 1.8 per 100,000 respectively. The hospitalization rate is cumulative and rises as a season progresses, and the proportions may change. CDC will continue to track this as the season progresses.

Severe flu outcomes are a somber reminder of how serious flu can be, even for otherwise healthy people. Flu vaccination protects against flu illness and reduces the risk of flu complications, including flu-associated hospitalization, admissions to the intensive care unit, and even death in children. During most seasons, about 80% of reported pediatric deaths occur in unvaccinated children, but a 2017 study showed flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu death among healthy children by 65% and among children with a high-risk condition by 50%. Last flu season was record-breaking for pediatric deaths, with 185 reported to CDC.

Access the complete report: 2018–2019 Flu Season: Flu Activity Elevated Nationally.

Influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone six months of age and older. If you don’t provide influenza vaccination in your clinic, please recommend vaccination to your patients and refer them to a clinic or pharmacy that provides vaccines or to the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to locate sites near their workplaces or homes that offer influenza vaccination services.

Following is a list of resources related to influenza disease and vaccination for healthcare professionals and the public: