The flu hospitalization rate rose last week to 67.9 per 100,000 people, the highest rate for this point in the year since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began enhanced surveillance of laboratory-confirmed flu hospitalizations during the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009-2010. The H3N2 strain predominant this flu season has been associated in past years with more hospitalizations and deaths in older adults and young children. A total of 84 flu-associated pediatric deaths have been reported nationally this season, and 19,398 flu hospitalizations in the 13 states reporting data to CDC’s surveillance network. According to early estimates released yesterday, this season’s flu vaccine has been 36% effective overall at reducing the risk of having to go to the doctor. “Better understanding why the cell-based vaccine offered better protection against H3N2 this season, when compared to the egg-based vaccine, may offer important clues to help improve the production of a more effective H3N2 vaccine for next season,” said Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. CDC continues to recommend flu vaccination for everyone aged 6 months and older, as flu activity is likely to remain elevated for several more weeks.

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