Flu Season: Up to 19,000 People Have Died; Vaccine Protecting About Half Who Get It
By Ron Brackett
February 17 2019
At a Glance
- CDC figures show this season's flu vaccine is 47 percent effective.
- The predominant strain of flu virus this year is H1N1, which is less severe than last year's main strain.
- A CDC official says the number of deaths is "a little bit surprising."
Last year, more than 80,000 people died of the flu and its complications in the United States, the highest death toll for the disease in at least four decades.
The current flu season started at the beginning of October and lasts until May. As of Feb. 9, between 15.4 million and 17.8 million people nationwide have caught the flu, with 184,000-221,000 hospitalizations. The Centers for Disease and Control reported. There have been 11,600 to 19,100 deaths so far with 34 of those being pediatric. Last year 185 pediatric deaths were reported. The CDC said the flu typically kills 12,000 to 56,000 people in the U.S. in a year. This year's vaccine, formulated for the H1N1 strain of influenza virus, has been 47 percent effective so far, the CDC also said. Last year's vaccine was 36 percent effective at the same point in the season. Overall, the 2017-2018 vaccine was 40 percent effective for the entire season.