One year later, this year’s flu season in the United States arrived as scheduled. The number of people hospitalized with the flu is on the rise, and two children are reported to have died from the flu.
Last year’s flu season was the year with the fewest number of infections in history. This may be measures taken in response to the new coronavirus, including closing schools, maintaining social distancing, wearing masks and canceling travel, etc. to prevent the spread of the flu virus, or because the new coronavirus replaces other viruses.
Lynette Bramo, an expert in monitoring flu-like illnesses for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that “the current situation is moving toward a more regular flu season.”
Bramo said that, unfortunately, child deaths are “a common phenomenon when influenza virus activity increases, and this phenomenon reminds us in a sad way how severe the flu can be.”
Infections were unusually mild during flu season last year, causing only one child to die from the flu, but now the situation is much worse. Two years ago, 199 children died, compared with 144 the year before.
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The latest data show that the flu is the worst in Washington, the capital of the United States. The number of states with severe flu has increased from three to seven. The states with impact with flu are New Mexico, Kansas, Indiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Dakota, according to data released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Bramo said that this year’s influenza virus is prone to cause severe illness, especially in the elderly and young people.
The relatively mild flu epidemic last year posed a challenge to this year’s flu vaccine development plan. Up to now, the current influenza virus is slightly different from the vaccine’s target, but Bramo said it is too early to say whether this difference will reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Bramo said, “We have to look at the impact of this small difference. The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against the sickness.”
Some early signs indicate that fewer people get the flu vaccine this year compared to last year’s figures. Bramo said that hospitals are now fully responding to the new crown virus epidemic, and receiving influenza vaccination and other preventive measures are more important than ever.
Bramo said, “Cover your mouth when you cough. Wash your hands frequently. Don’t go outside when you feel sick. If you have the flu, you have antiviral drugs. You can discuss taking this drug with your doctor to avoid serious symptoms. No need to go in any hospital.”