That was the sobering assessment offered Friday by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat.
In the United States, the flu season runs from October until the following May, peaking in February.
During the weekend more than 250 Long Islanders formed long lines for flu shots at free clinics hosted in both Nassau and Suffolk, reflecting nationwide concerns about the influenza outbreak that has resulted in the deaths of some children.
The CDC tracks pediatric flu deaths closely. The flu is widespread in 48 states and Puerto Rico. Although the majority of flu-related deaths in IN have occurred in individuals age 65 and older, almost 83 percent of the influenza-like illnesses reported to ISDH this year involve individuals age 24 and younger.
The number was even higher in Texas, with 14 percent of the deaths during that period being flu-related.
"Given that traditional surveillance systems provide data with a lag time of one to two weeks, this means that estimates of future flu activity may actually be improved up to four or five weeks earlier", he said. "Sindecuse attempts to participate with as many insurance plans as possible; however, insurance regulations are a limiting factor and create barriers for student care". Pediatricians say they're inundated with panicked moms and dads concerned their sick child might have the flu.
"This year, we can still give shots to the uninsured, or to children whose insurance doesn't cover it", Bilyeu said.
"During this most recent week, 80 percent of the viruses reported by public health labs were influenza A, and 20 percent were influenza B", she observed. "Our virologists and others around the country are studying the virus to see whether there are other explanations for the more severe disease we're seeing". This year's version of the flu vaccine, which is prepared months in advance, is turning out to be less effective than usual, especially against the H3N2 strain of influenza A.
Although it is not too late to receive a flu shot, Huey notes that the vaccine is becoming harder to come by, as only a certain supply is created each year.
"With this year's circulating influenza viruses, people are still able to get partial protection through the vaccine, and some protection is definitely better than none". Norman Edelman, senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association, told HealthDay.
Answer: The CDC lists the following: fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting.