Yes, there will be a flu season this year, CDC says
Flu season might be getting underway. While influenza activity is very low in the United States, it’s getting started and there’s enough to indicate that there will be at least some kind of flu season this year. THis is much different from last year, when an emphasis on frequent handwashing, mask use, closures of schools and businesses, and social distancing shut down transmission of the virus.
It’s always impossible to predict what a flu season will look like, but reports of more flu cases have caught her team’s attention and have her thinking flu season may have returned after its one-year break.
The CDC estimates that the flu kills anywhere from 12,000 to 61,000 people a year in the United States. During the first week of November, 14% of deaths were attributable to influenza, pneumonia or Covid-19. Only 0.3% of specimens tested came back positive for influenza this past week, and just 295 people have been hospitalized for flu.
The CDC confirmed it was helping state and local health officials in Michigan investigate an outbreak of more than 500 cases among students at the University of Michigan, the biggest outbreak so far.
Influenza is complicated because several different types and strains circulate. A strain known as H3N2, which has been around for decades, is what’s infecting people. Flu vaccines also protect against a strain known as H1N1, which appeared and caused a mild pandemic in 2009, as well as two influenza B strains.
The CDC recommends that just about everybody six months and older should get a flu vaccine every year. That’s because the virus mutates and the formulation often gets tweaked, but also because people’s immunity changes from year to year.
Brammer said vaccine manufacturers are projecting they’ll make 200 million doses of flu vaccine this year, which is the biggest supply ever.
Many Americans are also being advised to get booster doses of Covid-19 vaccines and it’s safe and convenient to get them together. The CDC, however, is worried because flu vaccination appears to have fallen behind schedule.
The CDC says, however, that overall more people say they plan to get vaccinated against influenza this year than last year. It says 58.5% of people surveyed say they plan to get a flu shot, compared to 54.8% who got one last year.
The CDC found that 70.6% of adults who are vaccinated against coronavirus or definitely plan to get a Covid-19 vaccine have received or intend to receive a flu vaccine for the 2021-22 season. Just 11% of adults who say they probably or definitely will not get a coronavirus vaccine say they’ll get a flu vaccine.
So far, 162.5 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed. Vaccine manufacturers are continuing to make and distribute flu vaccines.