CDC: Flu season likely nearing peak; still time to get vaccine

Published: Jan. 3, 2020 at 3:42 PM EST
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Federal health officials Friday provided an update on the current flu season. They say activity is high around the country right now and we may be nearing the peak of the season.

"We have to wait and see what happens in the coming weeks," said the CDC's Lynnette Brammer. "Even if we are at peak, we still have half the flu season to go. And there may be other viruses circulating after the influenza Bs that are here right now."

That's why health officials are urging it's not too late to get a flu shot. This season got off to an early and unusual start, with flu "B" viruses dominating. Those viruses tend to affect children and usually aren't seen until spring. So far there have been at least 6.4 million illnesses, 55,000 hospitalizations and 2,900 deaths from flu.

"The hospitalizations and pneumonia and influenza mortality is not elevated right now. But that is what you would expect to see when you have a lot of children ill, and not a lot of elderly ill," Brammer said.

A common respiratory virus known as RSV is also going around. It usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but can be dangerous for infants and older adults. Some children are at high risk for severe RSV disease, including premature infants and children with weakened immune systems.

The Gordon's 4-week-old daughter has been in intensive care for more than week. "I started noticing her retracting really bad and her lips started turning blue so I called an ambulance," said Kathleen Gordon, Brianna's mother.

More than two million children under five are diagnosed with the highly contagious virus each year and it's the number one cause of pneumonia in babies. With so many viruses out there this time of year, doctors say it's critical to stay home when you are sick and wash your hands frequently.

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