CDC: More than six million people have had flu this season


According to the CDC, flu seasons vary from year to year.

The weekly flu report published Friday by the Public Health Agency of Canada shows that from Dec. 30 to January 5, lab-confirmed influenza cases are down from the week prior, suggesting the flu season may have reached its peak during the last week of December.

About 6 million to 7 million Americans have become ill since flu season kicked off in the fall.

It's early, but the current flu season is shaping up to be gentler than last winter's unusually brutal one, USA health officials said. About 70,000 to 84,000 people have been hospitalized with the flu, the agency said.

The CDC hasn't released data on the total number of deaths so far this season, saying 16 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported nationwide to the agency this season. This year, the annual epidemic is unfolding more slowly than it did last year.

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The CDC has no estimate of deaths so far this season, partly because it's so early. In the past, CDC provided these estimates at the end of each flu season. Calculations are based on adjusted rates of laboratory-confirmed, influenza-associated hospitalizations collected through a surveillance network that covers approximately 8.5% of the US population, or about 27 million people.

It's hard to gauge how lethal the flu season has been for children across the country because Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia don't track influenza-related deaths in real time.

The CDC recommends that just about everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu vaccine.

It's certainly within time to still get [the flu vaccine] now. "These new in-season estimates fill out the picture of the burden of flu in the United States", the CDC said in a statement. "People who are very sick or who are at high risk of serious flu complications and get flu symptoms should see a health care provider promptly for possible treatment with a flu antiviral drug", the CDC said.