The United States appears to be in the midst of an unusually severe flu season, officials at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.
According to health officials, there's no region of the state where people were being spared from the flu.
A spokeswoman for the firm said: "We've seen a very high level of demand in the recent week from people looking to protect themselves and their families against flu this winter and has meant some Boots stores temporarily ran out of stock for a limited time. The season has started early, and it is probably peaking right about now", Jernigan added. The overall hospitalization rate for the week ending January 6 - 22.7 per 100,000 - is nearly double that of the previous week. In just the past week, hospitalizations have nearly doubled, going from 13.7 per 100,000 to 22.7 per 100,000.
The highest rates of hospitalizations are among those over the age of 65, but hospitalizations for those 50 to 64 is also high and increasing, Jernigan noted.
So far, 20 children have died from the flu, compared with a total of 101 last season.
"Elderly residents, especially those with other health conditions, can be especially vulnerable during flu season, as can pregnant women, young children, people with chronic illnesses and individuals whose immune systems are compromised", the ISDH said in a release issued Monday.
Official effectiveness data on this season's flu vaccine will not be available until the middle of next month.
At this point, 80 percent of reported flu cases are this more severe strain, according to the CDC.
To make matters worse, the vaccine may only be about 30 percent effective against that strain.
Unfortunately, the end of this flu season is nowhere in sight. "There's lots of flu in lots of places", said Daniel Jernigan, director of CDC's influenza division.
The strain, known as H3N2, mutates, making it hard to match what's in the vaccine to the virus circulating in the community, Kendall said. "And sometimes the virus mutates in a way you can't predict", he said. "We are also seeing H1N1 starting to show up in states that have already had H3 activity".
The main culprit for this harsh flu season is the predominant strain, H3N2, which causes the worst outbreaks of the two influenza A viruses and two types of influenza B viruses circulating.
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