Other than the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic, this is the largest number of deaths reported for this time of the season since reporting began for the 2004-2005 flu season, the report said. "We have seen an increase in the number of Influenza A cases, totaling 62 for the season and 127 cases of Influenza B. There have been hospitalizations at BRMC related to influenza complications".
This season, the vaccine has been 45% effective against both types of flu across all ages.
She said vaccination effectiveness was estimated by comparing vaccine coverage of patients who tested negative for influenza versus those who tested positive.
Another benefit is that immunity from this season's shot may provide some protection against flu strains in future years, according to Graham Snyder, M.D., medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at UPMC in Pittsburgh. That's the highest two-week count of the season.
They conclude, "Interim results from Canada's SPSN indicate that the 2019/20 influenza vaccine has provided substantial protection against medically-attended influenza illness during a season characterised by an approximately equal mix of influenza A and B viruses, a substantial proportion of which were genetically and antigenically mismatched to vaccine". Health experts consider that pretty good.
The CDC estimates the vaccine is 25% effective among adults 18 to 49 and 49% effective for people 50 and older. The reason is a mystery, but may change as more data comes in, Flannery said.
The news was slightly better for kids under age 18.
Although it's well into flu season, it may not be too late to get your flu shot, the CDC says.
"[The vaccine] may not prevent the illness completely", Schaffner said, "but if you're vaccinated and you still get the flu, you're more likely to have a less severe infection ..."
The current flu season was the most unusual in about five years because of an early spike in influenza B as influenza A was circulating across Canada and the northern hemisphere. Even though the flu shot isn't 100 percent effective, he encourages people to get it every year. In January, two more people died from the flu.
The CDC's Flannery said influenza was still circulating.
He agreed that it's an odd season that may last longer.
All major medical groups in the US recommend virtually all Americans age 6 months and older get the annual flu shot, saying that although it's not ideal, it remains the best way to protect against seasonal flu.