CDC says flu activity has “increased” in more than half of the US.

Flu season is here and that’s a good reason to take precautions as families gather for Thanksgiving this week.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its Weekly US Influenza Surveillance Report stating, “Seasonal influenza activity is elevated across the country,” according to figures through November 12.

The message to patients is simple: “An annual flu shot is the best way to protect against flu. Vaccination helps prevent infections and can also prevent serious consequences in people who get vaccinated but still get the flu. CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine annually. Now is a good time to get vaccinated.”

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) led a dozen medical groups in a joint statement endorsing the effectiveness of flu vaccines. Doctors should instruct their patients to get vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19.

“A strong recommendation from a trusted clinician is one of the most effective strategies for increasing vaccine uptake,” the joint statement said. “We encourage our members to use every interaction with patients as an opportunity to make strong vaccination recommendations, educate and answer questions about prevention and treatment options, promote immunization, and provide immunization where possible.”

The statement was endorsed by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the American Academy of Physician Associates, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Geriatrics Society, the American Medical Association, the American Osteopathic Association, Council of Medical Specialty Societies, Infectious Diseases Society of America and AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

The US Department of Health and Human Services has also released an online finder to locate flu and COVID-19 vaccine locations at vaccines.gov.

Across the country so far this flu season, there have been at least 4.4 million illnesses, 38,000 hospitalizations and 2,100 deaths from influenza. The most commonly reported viruses were influenza A(H3N2).

Across the country so far this flu season, there have been at least 4.4 million illnesses, 38,000 hospitalizations and 2,100 deaths from influenza.

There were 16 states that rated flu levels as “very high”: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Washington DC, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas , Virginia, and Wyoming. There are “high” flu rates in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Washington and Puerto Rico.

The flu alert comes as the nation grapples with the spread of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the continuation of COVID-19 infections.

In the first week of November, RSV cases appeared to have declined after a spike in the first week of October, but the rate is still higher than for most of last year, according to other CDC figures.

According to the CDC, the advice for preventing the spread of RSV is:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

For COVID-19, new cases and new deaths appear to have declined slightly from September to date, and new hospital admissions have remained stable, according to CDC figures. Among those aged 5 years and older, 11.3% of subjects, or more than 35.27 million subjects, had received their updated booster doses.

This article was published by our sister publication, Medical Economics.

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