Editor's note:For the latest flu coverage, visit https://www.aappublications.org/collection/influenza.
Sixteen children have died of flu this season, federal health officials said Friday after receiving reports of three additional deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data estimating 6 million to 7 million people in the U.S. have been sick with flu this season and 69,000 to 84,000 have been hospitalized.
Hospitalizations have occurred at a rate of about nine people per 100,000, lower than this time last season which saw about 31 people per 100,000 hospitalized. Children ages 4 and under have been hospitalized at a rate of 19 per 100,000, second only to people 65 and older. Just over a third of the hospitalized children had an underlying condition, most commonly asthma or obesity, according to the CDC’s weekly flu report.
About 3.5% of outpatient clinic visits were for flu last week, down from 4%. However, the number of states where flu is considered widespread rose from 24 to 30.
Influenza A (H1N1) has been most common except in the southwestern U.S., which is seeing more H3N2.
The CDC and the Academy recommend everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against the flu. Inactivated influenza vaccine is the primary vaccine choice, while quadrivalent live attenuated influenza vaccine may be used for children who would not otherwise receive a vaccine, according to AAP policy.
“Flu vaccination is the first line of defense to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications, including death in children,” according to a CDC website post. “Flu vaccines have been shown to be life-saving in children, in addition to having other benefits.”