Wed, Jan 08, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Arrival of peak flu season brings CDC shot warning

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

The peak of the influenza season has arrived and parents of young children, especially those in the three-to-six age group, should have them vaccinated against the disease, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.

The CDC said 1.52 percent of outpatient visits last week were attributable to influenza-like illness, a 16.9 percent increase over the 1.3 percent rate the week before.

Emergency room visits attributable to influenza-like illnesses rose by 19 percent to 12.6 percent of all visits, compared with the previous week, it said.

There were 27 confirmed cases of flu-related complications last week, seven more than were reported a week earlier, it said.

The increasing numbers suggest that the country is entering the peak flu season, officials said.

The CDC influenza surveillance data show that as of yesterday, a total of 259 confirmed cases of flu-related complications have been reported in the current flu season, amounting to an incidence of 11.1 cases of influenza-related complication per 1 million people.

There have been 19 deaths, or a rate of 0.8 deaths per million.

Young children, the elderly and people with chronic illness the high-risk groups, and should get their flu shots as soon as possible, the agency said.

The annual flu vaccination program began in October last year and as of yesterday, 2.77 million shots have been administered.

However, the lowest vaccination rate was for children between the ages of three and six.

The incidence of flu-related complications among this age group is 7.6 per million according to the centers’ disease surveillance data, just behind that of the group most susceptible to influenza — people 50 years and older, the CDC said.

Since children under the age of nine need to receive two doses of the vaccine to be immunized, parents should arrange for them to be innoculated immediately, the agency said.

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