Weekly Influenza News

CDC & WHO Flu News for February 15, 2019

34 flu-associated US pediatric deaths have been confirmed in 2019


According to a new report, the overall vaccine effectiveness (VE) for flu shots in all age groups this influenza season is reported to be 47 percent against the dominant influenza strain, A(H1N1). 

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on February 15, 2019, that for children ages 6 months to 17 years, the overall adjusted flu shot VE against A(H1N1) was 62 percent. 

This interim report uses data from 3,254 children and adults enrolled in the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network during November 23, 2018–February 2, 2019 

Which is good news, since there have already been 34 influenza-associated pediatric deaths confirmed in the USA during the 2018-2019 flu season. 

Specifically, the CDC’s updated data on February 9, 2019, is estimating the flu season’s impact in the USA as follows: 

  • 15,400,000 – 17,800,000 symptomatic illnesses
  • 7,200,000 – 8,400,000 medical visits
  • 184,000 – 221,000 hospitalizations
  • 11,610 - 19,100 flu-related deaths

The CDC’s key influenza indicators for the week ending February 9, 2019, are as follows:

  • The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza viruses in clinical laboratories increased. Influenza A(H1N1) viruses have predominated in most areas of the country, however, influenza A(H3) viruses have predominated in the southeastern United States (HHS Region 4). In the most recent three weeks, influenza A(H1N1) and influenza A(H3) viruses were reported in approximately equal numbers in HHS Regions 6 and 7.
  • The majority of influenza viruses characterized antigenically are similar to the cell-grown reference viruses representing the 2018–2019 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine viruses.
  • The vast majority of influenza viruses tested (>99%) show susceptibility to oseltamivir and peramivir. All influenza viruses tested showed susceptibility to zanamivir.
  • The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) increased to 4.8%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. All 10 regions reported ILI at or above their region-specific baseline level.
  • New York City and 26 states experienced high ILI activity; the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 8 states experienced moderate ILI activity; 11 states experienced low ILI activity, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and 5 states experienced minimal ILI activity.
  • The geographic spread of influenza in Puerto Rico and 48 states was reported as widespread; one state reported regional activity; the District of Columbia and one state reported local activity; the U.S. Virgin Islands reported sporadic activity, and Guam did not report.
  • A cumulative rate of 23.8 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations per 100,000 population was reported. The highest hospitalization rate is among adults 65 years and older (64.1 hospitalizations per 100,000 population).
  • The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the system-specific epidemic threshold in the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Surveillance System. 

Separately, the CDC reported interim estimates of 72 percent VE against A(H1N1) in Canada during the 2018–19 season.   

And, in Australia, the VE was reported to be 78 percent against A(H1N1) during the 2018 Southern Hemisphere influenza season.   

The World Health Organization (WHO) / Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) report published on February 12, 2019, offering the following updates: 

  • Caribbean: Influenza virus activity decreased and lower RSV activity was reported throughout most of the sub-region. In Haiti SARI activity increased was low with influenza A(H1N1) circulation. Bronchiolitis consultations remained above seasonal levels in most of the French Territories.
  • Central America: Epidemiological indicators remained at moderate levels and influenza activity was low throughout the sub-region with influenza A(H1N1) and B co-circulating. In Guatemala, influenza activity increased with influenza A (H1N1) and influenza A (H3N2) co-circulating. Overall, RSV activity decreased; while in Costa Rica, RSV circulation continued elevated.
  • Andean Region: Overall influenza activity decreased in the sub-region with influenza A(H3N2) predominance. In Bolivia and Peru influenza A(H3N2) and B co-circulated with moderate SARI activity. Brazil and Southern Cone: Influenza activity was low throughout the sub-region. Brazil and Chile, influenza-associated SARI cases decreased associated with influenza A (H1N1) detections.
  • Global: Both influenza A viruses circulated in Europe. In Western and East Asia, influenza activity continued to increase. In Southern Asia, influenza detections remained elevated overall mainly due to increased influenza A(H3N2) detections. In the temperate zones of the southern hemisphere, influenza activity remained at inter-seasonal levels. Worldwide, seasonal influenza A viruses accounted for the majority of detections.

Both the CDC and WHO continue to recommend vaccinations while influenza viruses are circulating the world.

In the USA, antiviral medications and various flu vaccines are available in most pharmacies.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides private sector vaccine prices for general information. And, flu vaccine discounts can be found here.         

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. Vaccine patients are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the CDC.