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The 2018 to 2019 flu season started off slowly, but that began to change last month. During the last week of December, just over 4 percent of people visiting the doctor were experiencing flu-like symptoms, and 19 states and New York City reported high flu activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
These states are particularly hard hit: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
But flu cases are being reported across the United States. And young children are especially vulnerable to the flu because their immune systems are still developing. Hospitalization rates related to the flu are highest among children under age 5, and so far 13 children have died.
Pregnant women also face outsized risks from the flu due to a weaker immunity. While many moms survive the flu with no problems, getting influenza during pregnancy can lead to serious health complications, and may increase your risk of preterm labor.
The good news is flu cases, deaths, and hospitalization rates are nowhere near as high as last season. During the 2017 to 2018 flu season almost 80,000 Americans died of the flu, including 185 children.
Keep in mind that this season still has a few months to go (it usually peaks between December and February). The CDC recommends everyone age 6 months and older get the flu vaccine, especially pregnant women and young children.
It is possible to still get the flu even after being vaccinated because vaccines can't cover every possible strain you or your family might be exposed to. Despite urban myths, it is not possible to contract the flu from getting a flu shot.
our site News & Analysis is an assessment of recent news designed to cut through the hype and get you what you need to know.