3 things parents should know about flu: Some facts to soothe the panic
We haven’t yet hit peak flu season, but we seem to be approaching peak flu panic.
Flu cases have been climbing for more than two straight months, and hospitalizations for flu have already reached a record high since the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionstarted using their current tracking system in 2010. The news that 63 kids have reportedly died so far this season from fluhas been especially terrifying for parents across the country — and for good reason.
This is shaping up to be a very bad flu year. But more than ever, we need to put some of the facts into context.
The pediatric death rate so far is “terrifying — but it’s looking normal,” said Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
By that, she means that during a typical flu season, pediatric deaths can range from 37 to 171, according to the CDC. While the death rate may climb this year, it’s not above average yet. And this season is not nearly as deadly as the 2009 swine flu pandemic — an outlier that saw 358 pediatric deaths.
Another scary statistic circulating in the media is that one in 10 people who have died in the US during the past week died from flu or pneumonia. While true, it doesn’t mean that people are dying from flu at an exceptionally high rate.
“Influenza deaths are not very, very high compared to previous years,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the CDC, told reporters on Friday.