The flu is hitting younger people harder this year than it has in years past, the CDC announced Thursday.
The flu makes annual rounds, but this year it appears to be hitting younger to middle-aged adults particularly hard. U.S. health officials recently said that getting the proper vaccine can reduce the need to see a doctor. Fewer people in this age group may have been vaccinated against the flu. The flu season will begin to wind down in a few weeks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that approximately 60 percent of people who have died from the flu this season were between the ages of 24 and 64, compared with 18 percent last season, and 35 percent of flu-related hospitalizations in the past three seasons.
Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC Director, noted at a recent press conference that, “We think one of the reasons flu is hitting younger adults hard is that such a low proportion get a flu shot, even those with underlying conditions like asthma, COPD, and diabetes.” He continued, “The bottom line is, influenza can make anyone very sick, very fast and it can kill.”
“Vaccination every season is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself,” he stressed.
Flu activity is expected to continue at a high rate until the end of the season, particularly in places where flu season began later. According to health officials, states such as Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas experienced an early increase in flu activity this season. The officials also said that although flu activity decreased in the South Central and Southeast states during January, it increased in the West and the Northeast.
The most prominent strain of flu this year is H1N1, which is the same one that circulated in 2009. The CDC said that this strain of flu is marked by high rates of hospitalization for related symptoms and deaths among young and middle-aged adults.
The CDC also said that although this current flu season is not as bad as it was during 2009-2010, it is too soon to tell how it will compare to last year’s flu season.