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Flu vaccine use is low as RSV continues to spread: CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that flu vaccine use is down this year, despite the resurgence in respiratory viruses in the United States.

According to federal data, 18.7 million flu vaccine doses were administered to adults in pharmacies during the week ending October 15, 2022. This is a significant increase from the 19.9 million that was given the previous year.

In October 2021, 14.7 million doses were given to adults by doctors.

“For adults, there are about 5 million doses less than we were last year,” Dr. Lynnette Brimmer, head of the CDC’s Domestic Influenza Surveillance group, said to reporters in a Friday media telebriefing. “We’re also seeing about 5% fewer pregnant people being vaccinated this year than we did last year. This worries us as flu shots protect both the mother and baby.

This is happening as the number of cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza continues to rise. Experts say the viruses are spreading more quickly in winter than normal.

The flu vaccine coverage for all children in this year’s flu season is 24.8% according to CDC data, which is comparable to 25.2% last year.

Dr. Jose Romero is the director of the CDC’s Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disorders. He stated that the reason for the high number of children getting infected may be that they are not being protected from the virus for two years.

The CDC released data on Friday showing that 20% of influenza tests came back positive.

In addition, 4,326 influenza-related hospital admissions were made in the week that ended Oct. 29, at a cumulative rate of 2.9 per 100,000. This is the highest season-wide rate since 2010-2011 when the CDC began tracking data.

CDC data show that RSV cases per week have risen from 5,845 in the week ending October 1 to 7,679 in the week ending October 29.

At least three states, Texas, South Carolina, and North Carolina have reported pediatric

flu deaths. Children in Michigan and Virginia also died from RSV.

According to the CDC RSV causes between 100-500 pediatric deaths each year. Flu seasons are responsible for between 37 and 188 pediatric deaths.

Romero urged Americans to get vaccinated for the flu and to vaccinate children. He advised

that children 8 years old and under should receive two doses of flu shots if they have never had one.

He said, “Parents and caregivers need to be alert for signs of emergency in children and young infants.” It’s difficult to distinguish between COVID-19, influenza, and other respiratory viruses by simply looking at the symptoms.

Officials from the CDC stated that they are available to help any state with overflowing hospitals. However, no state has requested assistance at this time.

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