CDC: Flu Hitting Younger People Particularly Hard this Season

AlexRaths/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- The current influenza season has been particularly hard on younger- and middle-age adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, people age 18-64 represented 61 percent of all hospitalizations from influenza this season, up from the previous three years, when the age group represented only about 35 percent of all such hospitalizations.

Influenza deaths this season followed the same pattern; more deaths than usual occurred in the younger age group.

While the flu is responsible for serious illness and death every year, the individuals who are most affected can vary by season and by the predominant influenza virus.

The current influenza circulating, the H1N1 virus, emerged in 2009 as a pandemic and was notable for high rates of hospitalization and death in younger- and middle-aged people. It’s predominant in the U.S. this season.

“Flu hospitalizations and deaths in people younger- and middle-aged adults is a sad and difficult reminder that flu can be serious for anyone, not just the very young and old; and that everyone should be vaccinated,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.

A second CDC report this week showed that the influenza vaccination reduced a vaccinated person’s risk of having to go to the doctor for flu illness by about 60 percent across all ages.

“Younger people may feel that influenza is not a threat to them, but this season underscores that flu can be a serious disease for anyone," said Dr. Frieden. "It's important that everyone get vaccinated.“

Experts say flu activity is likely to continue for a number of weeks, especially in places where activity started later in the season.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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