More than 6 million people have already gotten the flu this year as health officials warn of an early and severe start to the flu season.
Roughly 53,000 people have been hospitalized and 2,900 have died from the flu this season, including 12 children, with over half of states reporting “high” or “very high” levels of flu activity, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the week ending on Nov. 19.
At the moment, New Mexico, Texas, and Tennessee are seeing the highest flu activity levels in the country.
Cumulative hospitalization rates are the highest observed since the 2010-2011 flu season in the CDC’s FluSurv-NET system, a surveillance system that collects data on laboratory-confirmed, flu-associated hospitalizations at hospitals in 14 states.
The highest hospitalization rates were among adults 65 years and older, followed by children 4 years old and under.
Respiratory viruses have been hitting children particularly hard this season. Children’s hospitals across the country have been reporting capacity strains for weeks as they deal with an early surge in cases of the flu, the respiratory syncytial virus, and COVID-19, among other respiratory viruses, compared to previous years.
Dr. Jose Romero, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said earlier this month that “we suspect that many children are being exposed to some respiratory viruses now for the first time, having avoided these viruses during the height of the pandemic.”
In the 2021-2022 flu season, an estimated 9 million people got the flu and 10,000 people were hospitalized, reflecting a relatively “mild” flu season compared to the years before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the CDC.