CDC: Flu season shaping up to be ‘worse than average’
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, talked about the current influenza season and the flu vaccine effectiveness and availability, during a Press Telebriefing Friday.
He started out the briefing by saying, “The bottom line is that the flu season continues. We’re in the middle of flu season. About halfway through. And it’s shaping up to be a worse than average season and a bad season particularly for the elderly.”
Dr. Frieden said that influenza-like illness is down slightly compared to last weeks numbers; however, the West is seeing increases.
Forty-eight states report widespread geographic flu activity, compared to 47 last week. Director Frieden did note that, in seasons when H3N2 is the predominant strain, this season for example, seasonal influenza always takes the heaviest toll on seniors.
This is illustrated in the following numbers presented by Frieden: “Hospitalization rates increased sharply in people 65 last week and over and this week hospitalization rates for people 65 and older increased sharply again. Going up to a rate of 82 per 100,000, which is really quite a high rate.”
The CDC estimates that 90 percent of flu-related deaths are in people 65 and older.
He also reported nine additional pediatric fatalities last week, bringing the total to 29 thus far.
Frieden said there are reports of spot shortages of influenza vaccine.
He explained about vaccine supply in more detail:
The five companies that manufacture or provide vaccine in this country had originally projected that there would be about 135 million doses available for the U.S. for this flu season. We have checked with the manufacturers and recent reports indicate that they are able to produce additional doses of flu vaccine totaling about 145 million doses. As of this week, about 129 million doses had been distributed. That means that there is more vaccine out there for providers to order.
Likely in response to last weeks statement that the 2012-2013 influenza vaccine has shown to have an overall vaccine effectiveness of 62 percent, he closed by saying, “I want to close my remarks by reminding everyone that although the flu vaccine is far from perfect, it’s by far the best tool we have to prevent influenza. You can still protect yourself through vaccination.”
For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page
See the following video on flu symptoms. Courtesy of CDCStreamingHealth