If you're thinking that the flu epidemic has reached its peak, think again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their weekly report today, Friday, February 2 noting that the current flu season is still getting worse -- especially among children. Since their last report, 16 more children have died from the flu, bringing the nationwide total for the 2017-2018 season to 53.
According to Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the CDC, about half of those children apparently had been healthy and had no special vulnerability to this viral disease. And only about 20 percent of the children who died had been vaccinated, says Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of the CDC's influenza division. For that reason, the CDC is actively encouraging people to get vaccinated now. Even though they may be concerned about the shot's effectiveness, it does offer some protection, according to health officials.
What's more, the risk is still very much of concern. Many stats should give the public pause, like the fact that hospitalization rates are the highest since the CDC started tracking them in 2010.
"Unfortunately, our latest tracking data indicate flu activity is still high and widespread," Schuchat said at a weekly briefing, which covered data from one week ago, or the 10th week of this current flu season.
"We have not hit our peak yet, unfortunately," CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said. "Really, the bottom line is, there is still likely many more weeks to go." NPR notes that flu seasons last 11 to 20 weeks. Schuchat also noted that flu activity may be peaking in the West, while increasing in the East and remaining the same in the South.
Schuchat emphasized that parents pay special attention to children experiencing "a very high persisting fever, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat or shallow rapid breathing, or significant tiredness or confusion." She also explained that in some cases, for both adults and kids, it may seem as though they're getting better but then suddenly get worse. This can be a sign of a secondary infection like pneumonia.
While news like this is undoubtedly heart-wrenching to hear, the more we know about the virus and the precautions we can take to protect ourselves and our L.O.s against it, the better.