Daniel B. Jernigan
Influenza-related deaths this season have remained elevated for weeks, and hospitalization rates are comparable to the severe 2014-2015 influenza season, a CDC official said during a press conference today.
An additional seven pediatric deaths due to influenza were reported in the week ending Jan. 20, bringing the total for this season to 37. In light of these data, the CDC is still encouraging people to get vaccinated to lessen the likelihood of infection and spread.
“While getting a vaccine earlier in the season is better, there is still a lot of the season to go, and vaccination could still provide some benefit,” Daniel B. Jernigan, MD, MPH, director of the CDC’s Influenza Division, said.
He added that providers can check on availability of vaccines on the CDC website or at vaccinefinder.org.
To illustrate this season’s high mortality rate, Jernigan cited data for the rate of deaths attributable to either pneumonia or influenza.
“These pneumonia and influenza deaths went up sharply to 9.1% this week, and they’ve been elevated for 3 consecutive weeks,” he explained.
Jernigan added that death rates from the two diseases during the 2012-2013 and 2014-2015 seasons peaked at about 11% and about 10.8%, respectively.
“So we haven’t reached those peaks yet, but it’s still early in the season, and we may be getting to that level or maybe even surpass those numbers as the season progresses,” Jernigan said.
According to CDC data, the rate of influenza-related hospitalizations for this season is also high, reaching 41.9 per 100,000 population. – by Joe Green
Disclosure: Jernigan reports no relevant financial disclosures.