Government health officials said Friday that flu activity across the nation continues to remain high, although there are signs that it may be waning in certain areas.
New data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shows that 47 states reported widespread flu activity for the week ending Jan. 5, which is up from 41 the previous week. However, only 25 states reported high levels of flu-like illness, which is down from 30 states the previous week.
Nevertheless, CDC Director Tom Frieden told reporters in a conference call that the flu is unpredictable and illness could rebound or worsen.
"Truly, only the next week or two will show whether we have, in fact, crossed the peak," Frieden said. "Nationally, it's likely that influenza will continue for several more weeks."
Flu activity was elevated all across the U.S., except in the far west region that includes Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii and Nevada, the new report showed.
To date, over 3,700 people – mostly those older than 65 – have been hospitalized for influenza-like-illness (ILI) since October, and 20 children have died, according to the CDC.
It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine, which the CDC urges people to do because this year’s vaccine fights the predominant strain going around that makes people sicker than usual.
Based on data from approximately 1,155 children and adults with acute respiratory infections, the agency says the vaccine appears to be approximately 62 percent effective overall, but out of that group, 32 percent were vaccinated; thus, causing the CDC to say the level of effectiveness for this year’s flu vaccine as "moderate".
The CDC report concludes that these early vaccine 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."
In addition to getting a flu shot, other ways to avoid the flu include washing hands frequently and avoiding crowded places where people may be passing on the flu before they even know they have it.