21:17 GMT +317 October 2019
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    CDC - 53 Children Dead in Worst Flu in Recent Years

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    A recent update by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that at least another 16 children were killed by the winter flu in the US this past week, raising the nationwide number of pediatric deaths to 53 in 2018.

    "Hospitalizations are now the highest we've seen," CDC acting director Dr. Anne Schuchat said during the briefing. 

    About half of the children who died from the flu this season were healthy and did not suffer from pre-existing conditions like asthma. However, only about 20 percent of the children who died had been vaccinated. Even though this year's vaccination has been shown to be only 17-percent effective against the flu, health officials continue to urge people to get vaccinated because the shot offers at least some protection.

    "Unfortunately, our latest tracking data indicate flu activity is still high and widespread," Schuchat said during the briefing, warning parents that fever, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue and rapid heartbeat are warning signs that require a visit to the doctor or emergency room.

    The number of flu-related hospitalizations so far has surpassed those during the 2014-15 flu season, the worst flu season in recent history. There is significant flu activity in every US state except for Oregon and Hawaii according to the CDC.

    "We aren't out of the woods yet, but there are steps everyone can take to fight the flu," Shuchat said. "These steps, I will shout into the void until sweet merciful death claims me, include getting your flu shot. Get it!"

    Frequent hand-washing is also known to be helpful in resisting infection, as well as plenty of rest and good nutrition, according to the CDC.

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