As Children Die From Flu, Health Officials Urge Caution

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Takoma also has signs posted in its lobby to warn of flu risks with available masks and hand sanitizer available for visitors.

ADPH stressed that the influenza vaccine is the most important preventive measure against the flu and that flu shots are still recommended at this stage in flu season.

The flu vaccine is developed every year to try and match the virus strains that are expected to be most common during flu season in the U.S. Currently, the U.S.is in the middle of a flu epidemic, which occurs nearly every year. That amounts to overall protection of 48%, the CDC said.

Thus far in the 2016-2017 season, the percentage of deaths from pneumonia and influenza ranged from 5.6% to 7.9% of all USA deaths, which exceeded the epidemic threshold for three weeks in January. That's because the Center for Disease Control picked the wrong flu strain to vaccinate against this year. It killed 358 children that season.

Health leaders say be on the lookout for flu symptoms; fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle or body aches. "It seems like it's similar to the 2012-2013 season, which was a season with millions of cases and about 60,000 hospitalizations and 2,000 deaths". The CDC could not estimate vaccine effectiveness for the influenza A H1N1 component of the vaccine because those viruses haven't played much of a role so far this winter.

All told, San Diego County has confirmed 3,335 flu cases so far this season, significantly ahead of the 1,939 tallied during the same time frame during the 2015-2016 season but a bit behind the three-year average of 3,806 cases.

"Influenza activity is likely to continue for several more weeks in the United States, and vaccination efforts should continue as long as influenza virus are circulating", the CDC warned.

Those who are most at risk of getting sick are those over the age of 65, or are pregnant, or have a chronic medical condition.

One person died from the flu past year. They are caused by different viruses, but are both respiratory infections. "In the meantime, we support the people who are working in laboratories to make an even better influenza vaccine, which we hope will be available a few years down the road".

The vaccine's estimated effectiveness against the influenza B virus was 73%.

The health systems are asking anyone younger than 12 and anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms to refrain from visiting patients in the hospital at this time.

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