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CDC: 30 children have died of flu

December 16, 2022

Nine more children have died of flu, bringing the total this season to 30, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Children under 5 years have the second highest hospitalization rate of any age group at 49.6 per 100,000 children.

Across all ages, the cumulative hospitalization rate is 32.7 per 100,000 people. Going back to 2010-’11, the rate at this time of year ranged from 0.2 per 100,000 to 4.3 per 100,000.

The CDC estimates flu has caused at least 15 million illnesses, 150,000 hospitalizations and 9,300 deaths this season.

About 6.9% of outpatient visits were for a respiratory illness in the week ending Dec. 10, down slightly from 7.2% the week before but well above the baseline of 2.5%. Forty-eight of 55 jurisdictions have high or very levels of outpatient visits for respiratory illness.

The AAP and Children’s Hospital Association have asked federal officials to declare a public health emergency as pediatricians’ offices and hospitals are inundated with children seeking care for respiratory viruses on top of continuing mental health concerns and workforce shortages. A new AAP analysis found weekly COVID-19 hospital admissions for children under 5 years nearly doubled from mid-October to early December.

During the 2021-’22 season, about 6% of children hospitalized with influenza also were infected with SARS-CoV-2, according to a new study from the CDC. Children infected with both viruses had higher rates of invasive respiratory support compared to those with influenza only. Among 44 children who died of influenza, about 16% also had SARS-CoV-2. The majority of the children who were hospitalized or died had underlying medical conditions and most were not fully vaccinated against influenza.

The AAP and CDC recommend everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated to protect them from flu. About 45.6% of children have received an influenza vaccine this season, nearly 4 percentage points lower than at the same time in 2020.

Most of the flu viruses detected so far this season have been influenza A(H3N2). Most viruses tested are similar to those in this season’s vaccine.

Clinicians should start patients on an antiviral as soon as possible when indicated. While there are limited supplies of oseltamivir in some areas, other options are available. The CDC released interim guidance this week on handling limited supplies. It said priority should go to patients at highest risk of severe disease, patients who are hospitalized and patients who test positive for influenza within two days of illness onset. More details are available in the guidance.

 

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