Oct 28, 2022 - Health

Flu season arrives early with highest severity in over a decade

A CVS pharmacy in Miami sends a reminder. Photo: Marco Bello/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Influenza is hitting the U.S. harder and earlier this year, data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday shows.

Driving the news: Flu season, which usually starts to pick up in October and peaks between January and February, arrived about six weeks early with particularly high illness in the U.S. South and Southeast, according to the CDC.

By the numbers: The CDC estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 880,000 flu illnesses, 6,900 hospitalizations and 360 deaths from flu.

  • The fatalities include one child whose death was reported this week, marking the first flu-related pediatric death for the 2022-23 season.

The big picture: Flu hospitalization rates haven't been this high this early in the season since the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic.

The CDC's weekly flu surveillance report for the week ending Oct. 22, 2022.

Of note: Black, Hispanic and Indigenous adults are more likely to get hospitalized for the flu and less likely to be vaccinated against it compared to white adults, Axios' Shawna Chen reports.

Be smart: The CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu vaccine to protect against serious illness.

Go deeper: Biden faces COVID dilemma as a winter wave nears

Go deeper