The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s warnings that the 2015–2016 might end up being late, and not just light, are coming to fruition from coast to coast—with deadly consequences for some. New data highlight the need for urgent care providers to continue pushing flu shots and to be prepared for more patients with flu-like symptoms. Current flu activity has been called “widespread” in 37 states, with physician visits for flu-like symptoms continuing to rise; for the week ending March 5, they accounted for 3.5% of physician visits (more than any of the past four flu seasons for the same reporting period). While some states seem to have passed their expected peaks for flu occurrence, many others are just starting to see their numbers climb:

  • After a slow start, Indiana’s flu-related death rate has more than doubled since the first of the year, with 10 residents dying in February alone. State health department officials say that, ironically, may be due to the fact that vaccinations helped keep the incidence low at first and those who didn’t get immunized early on may have felt “safe.”
  • Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Washington state report widespread flu activity at a time of year that incidence is usually on the wane; instead, officials think those states are just starting to peak.
  • Pediatric emergency room visits are up 40% in western Massachusetts, with influenza and respiratory syncytial virus being blamed.
  • New Jersey and New York are also reporting higher-than-usual activity compared with other seasons for this time of year.
  • North Carolina reported three new flu deaths for the week ending March 12.
CDC Warned Us—Now the Late Season Flu Spike Is Here
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