About 3.7% of outpatient visits to clinics and emergency departments during the week
ending March 3 were for flu, which is down from 4.9% the week before but still above
the national baseline of 2.2%. Flu activity was high in 21 states, down from 32 and
widespread in 34 states, down from 45.
The cumulative hospitalization rate for flu-like illness grew to just over 86 per
100,000 people. The rate was 63 per 100,000 for children ages 0-4 years and 17 per
100,000 children age 5-17.
The dominant virus this season has been influenza A, which tends to be seen in severe
seasons. In the most recent week, however, influenza A was seen at about the same
rate as influenza B.
The Academy and CDC recommend annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older.
This year’s vaccine is 36% effective for the overall population and performs even
better in young children. The Academy currently is reviewing a proposal to bring back a nasal spray flu vaccine next season.
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., told a U.S. House subcommittee on Thursday that while work on a universal flu vaccine continues, the agency is looking into
ways to make seasonal flu vaccines more effective, especially against H3N2 strains.
“As we continue to invest in the future of manufacturing and vaccine technology,”
he said, “we also need to remember the importance of simply ensuring that more people
are vaccinated with available vaccines each flu season.”