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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 80,000 people died nationwide last flu season from the illness, which was the highest death toll in at least four decades.

"The No. 1 thing people need to know is that the flu season will go until May", added Thompson. "It peaked early and hit really hard". Another pocket of virulence has been growing in New Jersey and New York City.

But there are several months left in the season.

"It's too soon to make any assessment about this season's severity; however, since this H1N1 virus emerged in 2009, it has been associated with significant illness and severe illness among young children", the CDC wrote on its website. Influenza typically peaks between December and February, and there's no accurate way to call the top, she said.

Influenza A (H1N1), more commonly known as swine flu, is the dominant strain circulating this winter. "It takes up to two weeks to develop the vaccine's full protection, and the benefits last for up to a year". The flu vaccine is especially important in light of the severe season experienced previous year across the U.S. By that season's end, the state logged more than 6,400 hospitalizations, along with 435 deaths.

A slow season this year will be good news for insurers.

Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Jeff Howard says flu is now seen in more than 50 percent of the Commonwealth's counties. Adequate supplies of flu vaccine are available for this year's flu season. He also urged those with symptoms of the virus to avoid visiting the elderly or vulnerable people while ill.

That's not happening this year-so far.

"Vaccinating 60 percent of the population would generate the highest economic returns but may not be possible within the time required for vaccine effectiveness, especially if two doses of vaccine are required", wrote the CDC research team.

Gates believes this season has the potential to be a mild one for influenza cases.

That underscores the most crucial piece of information at this point, Brammer said. A total of 179 lab-confirmed flu cases were recorded between Dec. 16 and Dec. 22, 2018, compared to 95 laboratory-confirmed cases reported between Dec. 9 and Dec. 15, 2018.


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