'Tough flu season' hitting baby boomers hard, CDC says

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This year's deadly flu season is sending more baby boomers than young people to the hospital, according to health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In its weekly Friday briefing, the CDC also reported that the number of pediatric deaths rose from 30 last week to 37.

"It's been a tough flu season so far" said Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of the Influenza Division for the CDC.

Jernigan pointed out that activity has stayed at the same national level for three weeks in a row. "We often see different parts of the country light up at different times, but there is lots of flu all at the same time.”


It was also emphasized that this season's activity looks similar to the 2014-2015 pandemic season, when H3N2 was the dominant strain and involved more severe disease and death. Hospitalizations rates are currently 41.9 per 100,000 for the flu, which is similar to the 2014-15 flu season.

People 65 and older have the highest hospitalization rates so far, followed by baby boomers (50-64.) Young people typically have the second highest number of visits for flu, but Jernigan said this season boomers have higher rates than their grandchildren.

He noted the rapid spread of flu cases most likely came immediately after children returned to school after the holidays.

Some hospitals are reporting shortages of anti-viral drugs, so the CDC is working with manufacturers that are having delays in processing the medications.

Jernigan noted that even on the 50th anniversary of the vaccine, the virus can still manage to evade the human immune system.

As we hit the half-way mark in the flu season, the CDC still recommends getting a flu shot.