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The U.S. Is Experiencing the Worst Flu Outbreak in Over a Decade

The U.S. Is Experiencing the Worst Flu Outbreak in Over a Decade

If it seems like everyone you know is getting the flu, you’re right.

In nearly every state, the flu has taken out millions in the past few weeks. Hospitals are struggling to meet patients needs as they’re still recovering from a two-year pandemic. The CDC estimates that so far this season, there have already been at least 8.7 million illnesses, 78,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 deaths from the flu.

During Thanksgiving week, hospital admissions for flu-related illnesses almost doubled from the previous week, reaching a height that the CDC hadn’t seen since the 2010-2011 season.

Older adults (65+) and children under 5 have been hit the hardest, but there are still plenty of adults struggling with the flu. Part of the increase has been due to a low amount of Americans getting the flu vaccine: About 4 in 10 Americans say they won’t get the flu shot this season, largely due to concerns over vaccine side effects.

Public health experts say that masks and social distancing over the last two years kept the flu down, but the post-pandemic life has brought the flu back into our social circles in a big way. Many Americans are “immunologically naïve” and more susceptible to infections than they were before the pandemic.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told Good Morning America, “We can’t let up our guard. We have to take the precautions that we need to prevent the spread of these viruses, like washing our hands, wearing masks in crowded indoor spaces, and like making sure that we’re staying home if we’re sick. And of course, again, with COVID and the flu, get vaccinated as soon as you can.”

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