The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued their weekly flu report for the week ending January 5th, and the numbers can cause concern at first glance. According to the report, forty-seven states are reporting widespread flu activity, up from forty-one the previous week. At second glance, however, NPR reported that there may be some good news hidden in the statistics. Five states reported less flu activity than the previous week, which is a trend that can suggest that the flu season has peaked in those areas. The flu tends to ebb and flow, according to the CDC, so this could also just be a blip or an anomaly.
Meanwhile, Boston mayor Thomas Menino has declared a public health emergency in the city due to the flu outbreak. According to Boston.com, there are 700 confirmed cases of the flu, with four flu-related deaths so far. Last year, the city had just 70 confirmed flu cases.
The state of emergency in Boston was declared to raise awareness of the flu, and to provide residents with additional opportunities to get a flu shot. The city is planning multiple clinics in an attempt to reach citizens.
Nationwide, about 3 in 10,000 adults over the age of 65 have been hospitalized with the flu so far this season, compared to an average of 1 in 10,000 at this time last season.
Politico reports that CDC officials are just starting to get word of vaccination shortages. They stress that there are still plenty of vaccinations out there for those who look for them. This year’s vaccine is 62 percent effective, and while that may sound low, it is still the best tool to prevent the flu.
The CDC is optimistic about some of the trends, but stresses that it will take a couple of weeks to know whether we are over the peak of this early flu season.