Nov. 1 (UPI) — Halloween may be over, but the scary part of flu season is just beginning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly influenza report, released Friday, cases continued to rise as the month of October wound down.
Flu season in the United States officially began on October 1st.
The FluView report noted that, nationwide, through the period ending October 26th, roughly 2 percent of all visits to healthcare providers were for “influenza-like illness,” up slightly from the previous week, but still less than averages from previous flu seasons.
To date, Louisiana is the only state reporting widespread flu activity, an indication that flu season is well underway there. Puerto Rico has also reported a high level of flu activity, but most states have reported minimal flu activity.
“Nationally, flu activity is low and similar to what has been observed during recent previous seasons at the same time,” the CDC noted. “It’s too early to characterize the timing of the season, what viruses will predominate, or how severe the season will be.”
In all, 428 cases of influenza nationwide were reported to the CDC during the seven-day period ending October 26. Since September 29, 2,130 cases of the virus have been reported across the country.
The agency recommends the flu shot for everyone 6 months of age and older, and those who haven’t already had the flu vaccine should get it sooner than later. Research suggests the vaccine is most effective in the weeks and months just after it’s administered. The CDC considers January and February to be the peak of flu season.
Vaccination this season may have been complicated by rumors regarding a shortage of a formulation specifically created for seniors called Fluzone. People over age 65 are at increased risk for flu due to a weakened immune system, and Fluzone is a high-dose version of the standard vaccine designed to compensate for those with compromised immunity.
Rumors of the shortfall in supplies surfaced in August, but CDC officials have denied that there is, or was, a nationwide shortage.