Influenza is now widespread in 36 states, with at least 11.4 million people sick from the flu since October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday. While the current epidemic shows no sign of being as deadly as the 2017-2018 flu season, which which killed 80,000 people in the U.S., cases don't seem to have peaked yet. The CDC expects elevated flu activity to continue for weeks.
The CDC estimates there have been 136,000 flu hospitalizations between Oct. 1, 2018 and Jan. 19, 2019, with the most severe cases among Americans, 65 and older.
Three more children died in the week between Jan. 12 and Jan. 19th, bringing the total for the season to 22, about the same number of children who died from flu at the same time last year.
Schools around the country, including districts in Alabama, Idaho, Minnesota and Tennessee, reported closures this week due to influenza.
So far, influenza A, (H1N1), viruses are most prevalent in the U.S. since the beginning of October, although there may be later waves of different strains such as Influenza B.
"I’m seeing mostly flu A, but I’m beginning to see a few B," said pediatrician Dr. Shilpa Patel of Rockleigh, New Jersey. "Usually flu B is more intense than flu A."
Is it too late to get the flu shot?
The CDC hasn't yet reported how well the 2018-2018 flu season vaccine protects against the circulating viruses, but there's still time to get shots.
"I think the vaccine is doing a great job this year and we’re seeing a milder flu in kids," said Patel. "People end up feeling so comfortable and think it’s a mild flu season, but they still need to get vaccinated."