CDC: Flu Activity Remains High in the United States

Early vaccine effectiveness estimates indicate moderate protection against the flu

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Flu activity remains elevated, according to FluView, a weekly influenza surveillance report prepared by the Influenza Division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; however, the annual flu vaccine is moderately effective at preventing the disease, according to a report published in the Jan. 11 early-release issue of CDC's Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

According to the FluView report, for the first week of January, influenza activity remained elevated in the United States, but may be decreasing in some areas. Forty-seven states reported widespread geographic influenza activity, with New York City and 24 states experiencing high influenza-like illness (ILI) activity; 16 states experiencing moderate ILI activity; five states experiencing low ILI activity; and five states experiencing minimal ILI activity. The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza, which included two influenza-associated pediatric deaths, was slightly above the epidemic threshold. The predominant circulating virus has varied by state and by region, with influenza A (H3N2) seen most often, followed by influenza B.

Based on data (Dec. 3, 2012, to Jan. 2, 2013) from 1,155 children and adults with acute respiratory infection requiring medical attention, Lisa Jackson, M.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues note that the early 2012/2013 estimated vaccine effectiveness is 62 percent for preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infection. While it is not guaranteed protection against the flu, the CDC still recommends vaccination for all people over the age of 6 months.

"These early vaccine effectiveness estimates underscore that some vaccinated persons will become infected with influenza; therefore, antiviral medications should be used as recommended for treatment in patients, regardless of vaccination status," Jackson and colleagues conclude.

Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report

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