There’s good news and bad news in the latest flu season update.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some parts of the U.S. are already seeing the first signs of flu activity slowing down.
Though seen as a good sign considering that the flu season hit the country early and hard this year, official data showed that the overall activity of the virus remained high across the U.S.
Based on the update published by the CDC on its website last Friday, the week after Thanksgiving witnessed a 10% drop in hospitalizations after the country recorded the season’s worst yet the week prior.
Flu activity has remained high nationwide, but the public health agency noted that this was not a sign that the virus has peaked.
Moreover, experts believe that holiday gatherings could make a big difference in spreading respiratory viruses.
Due to the imminent surge in cases, health leaders have once again encouraged the public to get vaccinated, especially since COVID-19 continues to plague the country alongside the flu.
“We have the tools, we have the infrastructure, and we have the know-how to manage this moment,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha was quoted as saying by CNN.
However, convincing everyone to get the vaccines has become even more challenging this year. Compared to previous years, millions fewer flu vaccines have been distributed this season.
Updated data from the CDC showed that only 26% of U.S. adults had gotten their flu jabs by the end of October. Meanwhile, only 43% of children had gotten their flu vaccines by the end of November.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set a 70% target vaccination rate in its Healthy People 2030 plan. But for the past decade, only less than half of the population took the time to get the annual flu shots.
Public health experts said this year has been the most challenging since more people have already grown tired of hearing about the vaccine shots and are reluctant to get vaccinated.
“There’s a great deal of vaccine fatigue out there. Asking people this year to get not just one vaccine but to get the annual influenza vaccine, as well as the Covid booster, has really been what I have called a hard sell,” Dr. William Schaffner told CNN in a separate report.
Schaffner is the medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and a professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.