According to ABC News, there have been 16 new reports of child deaths from the flu since last week. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention officials have stated that 53 child deaths have been reported already and that several weeks remain in this deadly flu season.
Health officials at CDC rang the alarm about this year's deadly flu season at their Friday briefing, saying "overall hospitalizations are now the highest we’ve seen, even higher than 2014-2015 high season.” These numbers are nearing those of the swine-flu pandemic in 2009.
Officials are urging anyone who has not yet received a flu shot to do so. It is the 10th week of the flu season and a typical season can last up to 20 weeks.
It is unknown exactly how effective this season’s vaccine is. Officials have said that they expect it to be about 32 percent effective against circulating H3N2 viruses.
However, earlier this week a study by Canadian researchers suggests the H3N2 component of the vaccine is only about 17 percent effective. In Australia, where flu activity is similar to that in North America, interim reports suggest that vaccine effectiveness was only about 10 percent.
In spite of those numbers, acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat is still stressing the importance of getting vaccinated. She stated that vaccinated people who get the flu typically have less severe symptoms. She also noted that only 20 percent of the children who have died in the current season were already vaccinated.
Schuchat urged parents to remind children to wash their hands and stated that children with difficult or rapid breathing or a high fever should see a pediatrician.
Anyone who has the flu should stay home and avoid spreading the infection to others. Sending a sick child to school can affect several other students and cause the sickness to linger.