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CDC: 74 children have died of flu; activity high but declining

January 6, 2023

While flu activity is declining, it still is high in most areas, and the death toll has risen to 74 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Last season, there were 44 flu-associated deaths among children and adolescents, and in the 2020-’21 season there was one.

Children under 5 years have the second highest hospitalization rate of any age group this season at 70.2 per 100,000 children.

Across all ages, the cumulative hospitalization rate is 48.6 per 100,000 people — more than three times higher than the highest rate in any season at this time going back to 2010-’11.

The CDC estimates flu has caused at least 22 million illnesses, 230,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths this season.

About 5.4% of outpatient visits were for a respiratory illness in the week ending Dec. 31, down from 6.1% the week before but well above the baseline of 2.5%. Thirty-nine of 55 jurisdictions have high or very levels of outpatient visits for respiratory illness.

The AAP and CDC recommend everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated to protect them from flu. Most of the flu viruses detected so far this season have been influenza A(H3N2), and most viruses tested are similar to those in this season’s vaccine.

About 47.5% of children have received an influenza vaccine this season, about 4 percentage points lower than at the same time in 2020. CDC data show racial disparities in vaccination status of children and adolescents. About 40.5% of Black youths have been vaccinated this season compared to 47.8% of Hispanic youths, 48.5% of White youths and 50.3% of youths of other races/ethnicities.

The CDC has stressed the importance of starting patients on an antiviral as soon as possible when indicated. While supplies of oseltamivir are limited in some areas, federal officials recently announced they would increase access through the Strategic National Stockpile. Other options also are available. The CDC released interim guidance last month 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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