Breaking News Emails
Get deleted news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that play a role, delivered everyday mornings.
By Maggie Fox
More than 6 million Americans have already captured the flu this flu season and as many as 80,000 have ended up in the hospital, federal health officials said Friday.
For the first time, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can provide real-time estimates of the impact of the influence on the public. They show between 6 million and 7 million people have become infected with the flu, 3 million or more have visited doctors because of flu symptoms and between 70,000 and 80,000 have been ill enough to have been hospitalized.
So far, the flu season has not turned off as it did last year when nearly 50 million people captured the flu and 80,000 died. It was the worst influenza season of decades.
Fluid seasons vary from year to year and experts say they are almost impossible to predict. This year, the annual epidemic is slower than last year. "National influenza activity is elevated," said the CDC in its latest report on influenza.
So far this year, 16 children have died of influenza. The CDC counts every child's death from the flu. Adult diseases and deaths are calculated.
"Calculations are based on adjusted rates of laboratory-confirmed, flu-associated hospital stays accumulated through a monitoring network covering approximately 8.5 percent of the US population, or about 27 million people," said the CDC. of the season to release estimates of the number of people affected by the flu.
The CDC recommends that almost everyone over the age of 6 get an influenza vaccine, fewer than half of Americans ever do.
"It's still not too late to get an influenza vaccine. Year in and year out, people who get an influenza vaccine are better than people who may not be vaccinated, CDC says. "Influenza vaccines reduce the risk of flu diseases and serious flu complications that can lead to hospitalization and have been shown to be life-saving in children."
Fast treatment can save lives, CDC says. There are several influenza drugs on the market now. "People who are very sick or at high risk of serious influenza complications and get flu symptoms should immediately see a caregiver about possible treatment with an influenza virus."