CDC: Flu Season remains Mild, Vaccine very effective so far
The flu season has continued to stay mild, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday. The experts added that the effectiveness of the flu vaccine is much better than last season's.
"To date, it's still been a mild season, with low levels of hospitalizations and low levels of flu-associated deaths," Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist in the CDC's influenza division, said reported by HealthDay (via Philly.com).
The health experts noted that despite the current trend, they are expecting the flu to pick up over the upcoming weeks with the possibility of a peak in March.
"Last week influenza activity did increase a bit more and at a little bit faster rate," Brammer said, noting that the percentage of flu-related doctor visits increased from 2.5 percent to 3.4 percent last week.
Overall, a total of 13 children have died so far due to complications from the flu. Brammer reported that this number is low in comparison to the totals that the CDC has previously recorded, which have ranged from 40 to 300.
The officials noted that the mild flu season could be attributed to a more effective vaccine and warmer weather.
The CDC reported that the vaccine has an effectiveness rate of 59 percent so far. Last year's vaccine only had an effectiveness rate of 23 percent. In this year's vaccine, the H1N1 and H3N2 strains, which are currently circulating, were both included.
"This means that getting a flu vaccine this season reduced the risk of having to go to the doctor because of flu by nearly 60 percent," Dr. Joseph Bresee, chief of CDC's Epidemiology and Prevention Branch, said in a statement. "It's good news and underscores the importance and the benefit of both annual and ongoing vaccination efforts this season."
The CDC says it is not too late to get vaccinated if you have not already done so.