Flu Shot No Match for ‘B’ Strain, Season Rages On

By | January 17, 2020

Jan. 16, 2020 — Influenza is still going strong in the United States and isn’t expected to slow down for at least several more weeks, according to a report from the CDC.

What’s more, this season’s vaccine is only a 58% match for the B strain of flu, known as B/Victoria, that is hitting children especially hard.

“It’s not a very good match for B/Victoria,” Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN. “It’s not an awful match, but it’s not a very good match.”

Nationally, the predominant virus is B/Victoria, followed by A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses, with the dominant virus varying by region and age group. Other strains of A and B have been seen in low numbers.

“Key indicators that track flu activity remain high, but indicators that track severity are not high at this point in the season,” the CDC says in the report.

Although levels of outpatient hospital visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) remain high, hospitalization rates and the percentage of deaths from pneumonia and influenza are low so far.

“This is likely due to the predominance of influenza B/Victoria and influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses, which are more likely to affect children and younger adults than the elderly. Because the majority of hospitalizations and deaths occur among people age 65 and older, with fewer illnesses among that group, we expect, on a population level, to see less impact in flu-related hospitalizations and deaths,” the CDC says.

Outpatient visits for ILI activity fell from 7% the previous week to 5.8%.

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Regionally, the percentage of outpatient visits for flu ranged from 3.6% to 8.6%, with all regions reporting a high level of outpatient visits.

ILI activity was high in the District of Columbia, New York City, Puerto Rico, and 33 states; moderate in six states (Alaska, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and South Dakota); and low in eight states (Florida, Hawaii, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Vermont, and Wyoming).

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