Title: Decline in Seasonal Flu Activity and Continual COVID-19 Challenges
In the first week of the new year, key indicators of seasonal flu activity have reported a decline, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). After several weeks of rises, outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses (ILI) have decreased, along with a slight decline in flu test positivity rates and hospitalizations.
The data indicates that 14 states now have ILI activity at a “very high” level, down from 22 states the previous week. However, 23 states have reported a “high” level of activity, which is a slight increase from the previous week. As the CDC continues to monitor for a potential second wave of increased flu activity following the holiday season, these fluctuations are expected.
While there have been declines in both influenza and COVID-19 indicators, rates of COVID-19 remain elevated. Speculation suggests that the declines in flu indicators may be due to fewer medical visits during the holiday period. It is important to note that COVID-19 wastewater activity levels remain high, with all regions showing either high or increasing levels.
In addition to the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) activity remains elevated. However, certain areas have reported declines. This highlights the importance of vigilance and practicing preventative measures to protect against multiple respiratory illnesses.
The CDC emphasizes the significance of vaccination against COVID-19, flu, and RSV. Currently, 21% of adults have received the 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine, a positive sign in the ongoing fight against the pandemic. Regarding flu vaccination, 47% of adults have been vaccinated, with an encouraging 74% of individuals aged 65 and above receiving their flu shot.
It is estimated that the flu vaccine is 61% effective against the most common strain circulating this season. However, the CDC forecasts at least 14 million flu cases, 150,000 hospitalizations, and 9,400 flu-related deaths for this season. Tragically, in the first week of the year, 13 children lost their lives to the flu, increasing the total number of pediatric flu-related deaths this season to 40.
As we navigate the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, it remains crucial to stay informed, practice preventative measures, and ensure vaccination against COVID-19, flu, and RSV to protect ourselves and our communities. Stay safe, stay informed.