Editor's note: For the latest flu coverage, visit https://www.aappublications.org/collection/influenza.
Another 20 children have died of flu, with the total number up to 125 so far this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC).
The death toll at this point in the season is higher than the same time period in every season since reporting began in 2004-’05, except for the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.
In a report released Friday, the CDC noted that while overall hospitalization rates are similar to this period in recent seasons, rates among school-age children and young adults are higher. Children ages 4 and younger have been hospitalized at a rate of 80.1 per 100,000 children, the highest rate the CDC has on record, even surpassing rates during the 2009 pandemic.
So far this season, there have been at least 32 million flu illnesses, 310,000 hospitalizations and 18,000 deaths from the flu. This season’s flu vaccines are reducing children’s doctor visits for the illness by 55%, according to CDC estimates.
Lab data show the number of illnesses due to influenza A and B viruses are about equal for the season overall, although there has been a continued increase in influenza A in recent weeks. Most pediatric deaths (87 of 125) have been associated with influenza B viruses.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization made its recommendations for composition of influenza virus vaccines for the 2020-’21 northern hemisphere influenza season (https://www.who.int/influenza/vaccines/virus/recommendations/2020-21_north/en/). A U.S. committee will take up the issue on March 4 (https://www.fda.gov/advisory-committees/advisory-committee-calendar/vaccines-and-related-biological-products-advisory-committee-march-4-2020-meeting-announcement).
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.