Nov 18, 2022 - Health

Flu hospitalization rate highest in over a decade

People walk past a pharmacy advertising the flu vaccinations on Nov. 14, 2022, in London. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Influenza activity is elevated across the country just as Americans prepare for Thanksgiving gatherings and travel, per updated data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Friday.

The big picture: The flu hospitalization rate is at the highest for this time of year in more than a decade — since the 2010-2011 season.

  • With more than 25 states had a "high" or "very high" rate of flu activity, the worst illness is in Southern states, including Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia.

By the numbers: The CDC estimates that so far this season, there have been at least 4.4 million illnesses, 38,000 hospitalizations and 2,100 deaths from flu.

Screenshot: CDC

Yes, but: The map doesn't account for confirmed cases of the flu, but rather reflects non-hospitalized medical visits to health care providers for flu-like symptoms.

Zoom out: Flu season, which usually starts to ramp up in October and peaks between January and February, arrived about six weeks early this year.

The bottom line: The CDC recommends everyone over 6 months old get a flu vaccine to protect against serious illness.

Go deeper