ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – A report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta indicates that younger Americans were especially affected by influenza this season.
According to CDC officials, people between the ages of 18 and 64 represent the majority – 61 percent – of all persons hospitalized because of the flu this season. Last season, the same age group accounted for only 35 percent of those hospitalized for the same reason.
The figure is also higher than the pandemic season of 2009 to 2010, when people in the same age range accounted for an estimated 56 percent of hospitalizations.
“Flu hospitalizations and deaths in people younger- and middle-aged adults is a sad and difficult reminder that flu can be serious for anyone, not just the very young and old; and that everyone should be vaccinated,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in the report. “The good news is that this season’s vaccine is doing its job, protecting people across all age groups.”
Flu season will likely persist for several more weeks, and several states continue to see high levels of flu activity. Other states, however, are experiencing decreases.
Mortality rates among younger people were also high – those between age 25 and age 64 account for 60 percent of flu-related deaths this year.
Experts expressed concern regarding the attitudes held by younger Americans toward their health and susceptibility to influenza.
“Younger people may feel that influenza is not a threat to them, but this season underscores that flu can be a serious disease for anyone,” said Dr. Frieden. “It’s important that everyone get vaccinated. It’s also important to remember that some people who get vaccinated may still get sick, and we need to use our second line of defense against flu: antiviral drugs to treat flu illness.”
He added, “People at high risk of complications should seek treatment if they get a flu-like illness. Their doctors may prescribe antiviral drugs if it looks like they have influenza.”