After an early surge, flu activity remained low nationally, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in its weekly update. But the addition of 9 more flu-related pediatric deaths put the country over the 100 mark for the current influenza season.
The percentage of outpatient visits for flulike illness remained at 2.6%, just above the national baseline. Only three jurisdictions reported high flu activity: New Mexico, New York City, and Puerto Rico.
Other markers declined, including percent of respiratory symptoms testing positive, hospitalizations, deaths, and nursing home outbreaks. Of viruses tested at public health labs, 94.8% were influenza A. And, of subtyped influenza A viruses, 54.2% were the H3N2 strain and 45.8% were 2009 H1N1.
The CDC, however, reported 9 more pediatric flu deaths, putting the season's total at 106. The deaths occurred between the middle of November and the week ending Feb 4. Eight involved influenza A, and one was due to influenza B. Of five subtyped influenza A viruses, all were H3N2.
Vaccine uptake low in kids
In a statement today on the pediatric flu deaths, the CDC said most involved children who weren't vaccinated and that flu vaccine uptake in children this season is 6 percentage points lower than before the pandemic, in January 2020.
"Flu vaccination is especially important children who are younger than 5 years of age or children of any age who have certain medical conditions, because they are more likely to develop serious flu complications that can lead to hospitalization and death," the CDC said. "Getting vaccinated has been shown to reduce flu illnesses, doctor’s visits, missed school days, and reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalization and death in children."
Of the children who died, 41 were younger than age 5, a group known to be at higher risk for flu complications. Of 97 kids with information on pre-existing conditions, 40 had underlying illnesses that put them at greater risk for severe flu.
Flu vaccination is especially important children who are younger than 5 years of age or children of any age who have certain medical conditions.
Influenza A was responsible for 103 of the deaths, and, of 59 subtyped viruses, 83% were H3N2.
The CDC added that other indicators show that the current season has been moderately severe for kids compared with past seasons.
Over the past 10 seasons, flu deaths in kids have ranged from 1 in 2020-21 to 199 during the 2019-20 season.