While flu activity is declining in most areas, the death toll has risen to 79 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 74 per 100,000 children.
Across all ages, the cumulative hospitalization rate is 54.4 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 24 million illnesses, 260,000 hospitalizations and 16,000 deaths this season.
About 4% of outpatient visits were for a respiratory illness in the week ending Jan. 7, down from 5.4% the week before but above the baseline of 2.5%. Twenty-three of 55 jurisdictions had high or very levels of outpatient visits for respiratory illness (down from 39 the previous week).
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.
Approximately 48% of children have received an influenza vaccine this season, about 5 percentage points lower than at the same time in 2020. CDC data show racial disparities in vaccination status of children and adolescents. About 40% of Black youths have been vaccinated this season compared to 48.5% of Hispanic youths, 49.2% of White youths and 51% 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.
- CDC webinar “2022-2023 Seasonal Influenza Testing and Treatment During the COVID-19 Pandemic”
- CDC interim guidance on prioritizing antiviral treatment when supplies are limited
- AAP policy Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2022-2023
- AAP technical report Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2022-2023
- AAP webpage on preventing flu in early education and child care settings
- Information on flu from the CDC
- CDC FAQs about the 2022-’23 flu season
- AAP flu toolkit
- Information for parents on flu vaccine from HealthyChildren.org
- Information on flu from the AAP Red Book
- Flu vaccine locations near you