As COVID-19 dominates the news, flu deaths continue

Feb. 13, 2020

An additional 2,000 Americans — 10 of them children — have died from the flu since the last reporting period, according to the weekly flu report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The surveillance report for the week ending February 1, 2020, shows flu activity increased in many reporting areas. In addition, the report shows 22 million Americans have suffered from the flu, and that 12,000 adults and 78 children have died during this flu season, which began in October.

While coronavirus has dominated much of the conversation, that vigilance should be balanced with the understanding that influenza is more prevalent and much more likely to impact Americans, says Libby Richards, an associate professor of nursing in Purdue University’s School of Nursing.

“It’s important to keep in mind that while we currently do not have a vaccine for coronavirus, we do have a safe and effective vaccine for the flu, and it’s not too late to get one,” Richards says. “We are still in the peak of flu season, so vaccination is important to protect you and those around you. The flu vaccine helps protect not only you from influenza but can also lessen your chance of flu-related complications.”

A total of 10,314 laboratory-confirmed, influenza-associated hospitalizations occurred between October 1, 2019, and February 1, 2020, in the United States, according to the CDC’s Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network.

The overall cumulative hospitalization rate was 35.5 per 100,000 population, or a rate that is similar to what had occurred during the same period in recent influenza seasons.

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