Editor's note:For the latest flu coverage, visit https://www.aappublications.org/collection/influenza.
Thirteen more children have died of flu, bringing the total to 105, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The death toll at this point in the season is among the highest in the past 15 seasons, health officials said. Hospitalization rates for children also are higher than usual despite being average for the general population. The severity for youths may be due in part to the early circulation of influenza B viruses, which are known to be tough on children.
Children ages 4 and under have been hospitalized at a rate of 72.5 per 100,000 children, the second highest rate among all age groups. Nearly half of children who have been hospitalized have had an underlying medical condition, most commonly asthma.
After four weeks of climbing, outpatient visits for flu decreased during the week ending Feb. 15, although at 6.1%, the rate was higher than in most recent seasons. Flu activity is high in 44 states and widespread in 47 states. There also has been a surge of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 in recent weeks.
Overall, the CDC estimates 29 million people have gotten sick, 280,000 have been hospitalized and 16,000 have died.
In a report released Thursday, the CDC said this season’s vaccine has been 55% effective for children and 45% effective for the overall population in preventing medical visits.
The CDC continues to recommend everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated. Physicians with high-risk patients who have contracted the virus should treat them promptly with antivirals.