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CDC says flu season may have returned, urges people to get flu vaccination

2 years 7 months 4 weeks ago Friday, November 19 2021 Nov 19, 2021 November 19, 2021 6:10 AM November 19, 2021 in News
Source: CNN

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says while it is not possible to predict what a flu season will be like, it is possible that flu season may have returned after a on-year hiatus due to last year's emphasis on frequent handwashing, mask use, and social distancing.

CNN reports that Lynnette Brammer, lead of the CDC's Domestic Influenza Surveillance team, said reports of more flu cases have caught her team's attention they're closely monitoring the spread of the virus. 

"Overall flu activity is still really low. It's starting to creep up just a little bit," Brammer said. "That gives us the idea that flu season may be starting."

According to the CDC, an estimated 12,000 to 61,000 people in the U.S. can pass away after contracting the flu. 

The CDC says so far this month, 295 people have been hospitalized for the flu.

Additionally, during the first week of November, 14 percent of deaths were linked to influenza, pneumonia or COVID-19, and recent research determined that 0.3 percent of those deaths involved people who'd tested positive for influenza.

So far, the biggest breakout of influenza cases in the country occurred Monday in Michigan, where more than 500 cases were reported among students at the University of Michigan. 

Brammer said the majority of current influenza in that area seem to be among younger people, ages 5 to 24.

"A lot of times, flu can happen first in younger age groups and then spread to the very young and the older age groups. It doesn't always happen that way," she said. "Every flu season is different."

There are several different influenza types and strains. At the moment, Brammer said, most people who have the flu are being affected by a strain known as H3N2.

The CDC recommends that just about everyone six months and older should get an annual flu vaccine because the virus mutates and the formulation often gets tweaked. Yearly vaccines are also suggested because a person's immunity tends to wane from year to year, even with vaccination.

According to the CDC, it is safe to get both a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time.

Pregnant women are also strongly advised to get flu shots both to protect themselves and their babies. CNN reports that so far this year, only 41 percent of pregnant women have been vaccinated in comparison with the 58 percent who were vaccinated at this time last year.

The CDC reports that as of November, 162.5 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed and still more is expected to be produced and distributed. 

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