The worst flu season in a decade continues to take a grim toll, with 22 more child deaths reported Friday, bringing the total to 84.
The latest update, posted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also shows that the flu remained widespread in 48 states.
In a press conference Thursday about flu vaccines, acting CDC director Anne Schuchat said the flu season is far from over, even after 12 weeks of unusually persistent coast-to-coast misery.
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"This flu season continues to be extremely challenging and intense, with very high levels of office visits for flu and hospitalization rates, all indications that flu activity is high and likely to continue for several more weeks," she said.
This year's flu vaccine is preventing about 36% of flu cases in vaccinated people but is working better, at a rate of about 59%, in young children, the CDC reported Thursday. The vaccine is less effective, about 25%, at preventing illnesses caused by the dominant virus behind this year's epidemic, the report said.
But most of the children who have died this year have not been vaccinated, the report said. That also has been true for children who died in previous years, according to a study published this week.