Influenza is a contagious viral disease that causes mild to severe symptoms that, in rare cases, can lead to death. Five children died and another 566 hospitalizations related to influenza occurred as of November 25.
"The flu is increasing, and we are seeing a fairly steep increase in influenza activity in the US, especially in the south," said Brendan Flannery, co-author of the new report and epidemiologist in the influenza division of the CDC.
Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Oklahoma reported widespread activity during the week ending November 25, according to the report.
"We recommend that, for everyone 6 months and older, if you have not received your vaccine yet, this is the time to get it," said Shannon Stokley, associate director of sciences in CDC's immunization services division. .
Despite this orientation, less than half of Americans have received a jab this season. Common concerns focus on the effectiveness of the vaccine and the side effects.
"Among the general population, approximately 39% have received the vaccine," said Stokley, co-author of a new CDC report that surveyed people by telephone and Internet at the beginning of November.
However, as noted by Dr. Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, the flu has potentially serious complications, such as pneumonia, bronchitis and sinusitis, and ear infections.
"Anything you can" help prevent your family from getting the flu is very beneficial, "said Altmann, who was not involved in the CDC investigation, and his advice includes the CDC's recommendation to get a flu shot, But it also adheres to low-tech contagious disease prevention techniques: "good hand-washing techniques, teaching children not to share their germs, staying home when you're sick and disinfecting" common surfaces, "he said.
Babies and pregnant women, particularly those in the second and third trimesters, are more vulnerable to developing complications, according to the CDC.
"We have some evidence of that the vaccine protects the woman from the flu itself, and can protect the baby in the six months of life from the flu before we can vaccinate the baby, "Flannery said. Both the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend a flu vaccine for all women who are or are pregnant during the flu season.
Many future mothers, however, have not followed this advice.
Do pregnant women receive "appropriate" care?
More than a quarter of pregnant women reported that medical personnel did not recommend or offer the flu vaccine.
"It saddens me a little that people across the country, especially pregnant women, do not receive the recommended and appropriate medical care," Altmann said.
Coverage was higher for pregnant women whose doctors recommended and offered the vaccine: just over half of the women in this category had received a vaccine.
Side Effects and Vaccine Effectiveness
Among the health workers who rejected the vaccine, the most common reason is the fear of experiencing side effects or getting sick with the vaccine.