Healthcare Business News

Flu targeting healthy young adults this winter, CDC says

By Steven Ross Johnson
Posted: January 21, 2014 - 2:00 pm ET

The flu is hitting healthy young adults particularly hard this season and also led to 10 pediatric deaths from Jan. 5-11, doubling the total for the season, federal health officials said Tuesday.

Young children and the elderly are typically most vulnerable to the flu, but 61% of the patients hospitalized for flu-related illnesses this year have been adults between the ages of 18 and 64, mostly because of the high prevalence of the H1N1 strain, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. H1N1, which was responsible for more than 12,000 deaths in the U.S. during the 2009 flu season, has accounted for about 95% of reported flu cases this year.

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The CDC has now logged cases of influenza in every state and widespread activity of the virus in 40 states.

Health officials said 17 of the 20 children who died from flu this season were eligible to receive the flu vaccine, but only one was fully vaccinated against the virus.

Amid the uptick in flu activity, only 40% of Americans have been vaccinated against the flu, according to CDC estimates. The agency recommends vaccination for everyone 6 months and older.

The increase in hospitalizations has prompted a number of health systems to cut back on visitation hours to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHSjohnson

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