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Flu hospitalizations soar as triple viral threat looms ahead of holidays

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Nearly every state in the United States is battling high levels of flu-like illness, public health officials said on Monday. respiratory virus While people travel for the holidays and gather indoors with friends and family, it threatens to overwhelm the healthcare system.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention personnel: Early and severe flu season It got noticeably worse during Thanksgiving week, the official start of the holiday season.

The violent resurgence of influenza coincides with the start of the third pandemic winter.

“It’s the perfect storm for the terrible holiday season,” said Sandra Freihofer, president of the American Medical Association of Atlanta infectious disease doctors, who attended Monday’s briefing by the CDC.

Levels of influenza-like illness, a measure of medical visits with respiratory symptoms possibly caused by RSV or covid-19, were high or very high. 47 jurisdictions Thanksgiving week saw an increase from 36 the week before, said CDC director Rochelle Wallenski. The hospital received nearly 20,000 flu patients. previous week. Officials also reported two new childhood flu deaths, bringing the number of child deaths to 14 this season.

Overall, the CDC has documented at least 8.7 million illnesses, 78,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 flu deaths since October.

Meanwhile, hospitalization for coronavirus also riseCases of respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV, remain high but appear to have peaked in some areas.

“The past few years have certainly not been easy, and now we are once again faced with a surge of disease, another moment of overcapacity and one of tragic and often preventable grief.

Wallenski urged Americans to get the flu shot, updated coronavirus vaccine booster, which are tailored for the omicron subvariant. She said her early data showed that this year’s flu vaccination prescriptions appear to be in good agreement with the strains that are circulating, and that vaccination reduces hospitalizations even if it doesn’t stop transmission. .

Public Health Officials Worried About Influenza vaccination rate being It is lower than the previous year, including groups at high risk of hospitalization, such as young children, pregnant women and adults 65 years and older.

“We all have booster fatigue, but we understand that if we don’t, we can get really, really sick this year and ruin our holiday celebrations. Get vaccinated,” Freihofer added of the novel coronavirus booster shot.

Officials also provided some good news about RSV, which does not yet have a licensed vaccine.

Pfizer Seeks RSV Vaccine Approval

The virus surge appears to have peaked in the South and Southeast, and may have plateaued in the Mid-Atlantic, New England and Midwest, Warenski said.

“It is encouraging to note that the respiratory virus continues to spread at high levels nationwide, and even in areas where RSV may be declining, our hospital system continues to prevent patients with other respiratory diseases. It continues to be stretched because there are many,” she added.

Warensky said people with symptoms of flu or COVID-19 should see a doctor early and take prescription antiviral medications that, if taken within the first few days of illness, greatly reduce the chances of becoming severely ill. I urged you to get the

Health officials have also prioritized administering influenza and coronavirus vaccines to reduce the burden on hospitals.

Wallenski said on Monday that the CDC recommends wearing masks on public transport, saying, “Especially for the 5% of the population currently living in high-risk areas to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases. We recommend that you wear a quality, close-fitting mask.”county high covid-19 community level

The CDC is not a regulatory agency and can recommend masking, but cannot enforce it.

agency adopted a new system Earlier this year, to tie masking recommendations to a formula highlighting not only the number of infections but also the burden on hospitals. That formula is being tested as hospitals fill up with people infected with other respiratory viruses.

Wallenski said the CDC is reviewing its metrics, but said Americans concerned about the threat of the triple virus can act now to protect themselves.

“You don’t have to wait for CDC action to wear a mask,” she said.

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