Thirteen more children have died from flu, bringing the total to 97, according to new data from federal health authorities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) flu report for the week ending Feb. 17 shows the virus remains widespread in 48 states, even
as visits to outpatient clinics and emergency departments fell from 7.5% to 6.4%.
Flu-related hospitalizations continue to rise and have reached a rate of 74.5 per
100,000 population, up from 67.9 per 100,000 population the week before. The rate
is at its highest since tracking began in 2010.
Hospitalization rates for children were lower than the overall figures — 52.6 per
100,000 population for children 4 years and younger and 14 per 100,000 population
for children ages 5-17 years, both of which increased from the previous week.
Just over 48% of children hospitalized for flu had an underlying condition, most commonly
asthma, neurologic disorder or obesity, although data were not available for all hospitalized
CDC officials have been urging everyone 6 months and older to be vaccinated and estimate
it reduces the risk of needing to see a doctor for flu by 36% this season. Vaccine effectiveness has been greatest for children 6 months through 8 years (59%) and lowest for adolescents
ages 9-17 (5%).
Earlier this week, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to add the nasal spray flu vaccine (quadrivalent live attenuated influenza vaccine,
FluMist) as an option for the 2018-’19 season after pulling it two years ago due to
poor effectiveness. However, the CDC director still must review the recommendation
before it can become policy, and the Academy will make its own recommendation after
reviewing the data.