CDC: Number of flu-related pediatric deaths rises to 20

CDC: Number of flu-related pediatric deaths rises to 20

At this point, 80 percent of reported flu cases are this more severe strain, according to the CDC.

As of the week ending January 6, the Minnesota Department of Health reports more than 1,700 flu-related hospitalizations, 55 outbreaks of influenza-like illness in long-term care facilities, 43 outbreaks in schools and one pediatric flu death this season.

Kendall says flu season generally begins with influenza A and ends with influenza B, but this year, the strains are being detected in fairly equal numbers early in the season.

A spokeswoman for the firm said: "We've seen a very high level of demand in the recent week from people looking to protect themselves and their families against flu this winter and has meant some Boots stores temporarily ran out of stock for a limited time".

Not only that, but "there is also a rapid rise in the number of people being hospitalized for laboratory-confirmed flu", Jernigan said. The flu season is typically at its worst around February.

It's no secret by now that the flu vaccine is not a good match with the H3N2 flu strain that is dominating the season.

"We have a lot of flu season to get through still", Jernigan said. And Jernigan said he expected this year's vaccine to be about 30 percent effective against H3N2 when all is said and done. But most people in California and the rest of the country are catching a particularly unsafe strain of influenza that the vaccine typically doesn't work well against. "We are also seeing H1N1 starting to show up in states that have already had H3 activity". Seasons where H3N2 dominates typically result in the most complications, especially for the very young, the elderly and people with certain chronic health conditions, experts say.

He says that could mean younger people, who are more susceptible to catching the B strain, may get sick earlier, but it's hard to predict what the rest of the flu season will look like.

At UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, the emergency room saw more than 200 patients on at least one day, mostly because of the flu. So even though it takes two weeks for the vaccine to start protecting people after they get vaccinated, it's still worthwhile to get vaccinated, they say.

In seasons when the predominant strain is H3N2, vaccine effectiveness tends to be lower than that against H1N1 and influenza B viruses, Jernigan said.

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