CDC: Number of flu-related pediatric deaths rises to 20

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And some hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area are limiting visitors under the age of 16 as a precaution, since young people can be more vulnerable to effects of the flu.

As of the week ending January 6, the Minnesota Department of Health reports more than 1,700 flu-related hospitalizations, 55 outbreaks of influenza-like illness in long-term care facilities, 43 outbreaks in schools and one pediatric flu death this season.

CDC officials said there are also spot shortages of antiviral medicines in parts of the country with lots of flu.

"Flu is everywhere in the US right now", Dr Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters on a conference call. "What we can see is a very rapid increase in the numbers of people coming in to see their healthcare providers", Jernigan said.

In addition, the rate at which Americans are being hospitalized for the flu nearly doubled in the last week, to 22.7 for every 100,000 hospitalizations, according to the CDC. Winter told FOX 5 this year's flu season is unlike any other. And Jernigan said he expected this year's vaccine to be about 30 percent effective against H3N2 when all is said and done. The flu season is typically at its worst around February.

"There are at least 11 to 13 more weeks of influenza to go", Jernigan said.

The CDC cautioned Friday that we could still have three months left in flu season.

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"Most of the in-patients are here for medical reasons other than the flu", Dossey said.

Federal health officials cite the bad winter weather, holiday travel and the severe H3N2 strain for the high number of hospitalizations in the state and nationwide.

In seasons when the predominant strain is H3N2, vaccine effectiveness tends to be lower than that against H1N1 and influenza B viruses, Jernigan said.

"Flu is everywhere in the USA right now".

While the Glasgow and Belfast branches both had some vaccine in stock, a backlog of patients meant the supplies were accounted for and no new patients would be able to receive them during a walk-in-appointment, they said. We know that B viruses will be showing up later in the season.

"While our flu vaccine is far from ideal, it is still the best defense we have", Fitzgerald says.

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