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Flu season hits younger adults the hardest

Widespread Seasonal Flu Cases Jump To 25 StatesATLANTA (AP) - Flu season seems to be winding down, and it's been an odd one.

It hasn't been as bad as last year and the vaccine worked a little better. And it has been a fairly mild one for the elderly - traditionally the most vulnerable group.

But it's been a different story for young and middle-age adults, who have been hit harder than expected because of a surge in swine flu.

Most flu seasons, only one-third of the people who land in the hospital with the flu are adults ages 18-64. This winter, they have accounted for two-thirds, most of them adults who were obese or had another ailment.

The numbers "are painful reminders that flu can be serious for anyone, not just infants and the very old," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC released new information Thursday about the flu season, which started around mid-December, a bit earlier than usual, and apparently peaked by mid-January. Last winter, it started even earlier.

For weeks, flu has been waning in some parts of the country, although health officials say there's still a lot of flu virus going around and flu season is capable of getting a second wind.

One way the CDC measures the flu's severity is by rates of hospitalizations for flu and its complications. Overall, they have been only half what they were last winter despite the higher rates in younger adults.

Health officials say that's because the flu strain that is making most people sick this winter is swine flu, or H1N1. That kind first showed up in 2009 and caused a global pandemic that was particularly dangerous to younger adults.

Since then, the virus has been around each winter but mostly has been a backstage presence. Experts say the virus hasn't mutated. It's simply encountering a lot of younger adults who never were infected before and haven't been vaccinated, said CDC flu expert Dr. Joseph Bresee.

The annual flu vaccine is modified each year, and swine flu is now included in the mix of seasonal strains. Working-age adults have the lowest vaccination rates, CDC officials noted.

Among infectious diseases, flu is considered one of the nation's leading killers. On average, about 24,000 Americans die each flu season, according to the CDC. The agency doesn't keep an exact count of flu deaths. But health officials estimates that 60 percent of flu deaths this season have been in people ages 25 to 64, similar to the numbers from 2009-2010.

The government also released data on this year's flu vaccine. A flu vaccine that's 60 to 70 percent effective in the U.S. is considered pretty good and this year's falls in that range.

Overall, it was a moderate 61 percent. That means those who got a shot have a 61 percent lower chance of winding up at the doctor with the flu. Last year, it was 56 percent effective.

Those numbers reflect how good the vaccine was against swine flu. There wasn't enough data to really gauge how well it worked in the elderly against a strain that's more dangerous to older adults. Last season, the vaccine was only 9 percent effective in people 65 and older against that H3N2 strain - one reason last flu season was unusually severe.

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angie February 21 2014 at 9:29 AM

Watch Conspiracy Theory Jesse Ventura about flu shots... How else can our government control the population... Sure has nothing to do with you not getting sick...

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raradedo angie February 21 2014 at 10:44 AM

I watched that And Have to say I agree with You

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angie February 21 2014 at 9:31 AM

Watch Conspiracy Theory Jesse Ventura .. You will see how the government controls the population with these flu shots.. Oh yes the government can use experimental drugs with out our consent. But you may want to see that episode.. and it's amazing I can't post on aol go figures

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Bill angie February 21 2014 at 9:58 AM

Seems like the Chemtrails seeped under your tin-foil hat. Everyone knows that Ancient Aliens instructed the Free Masons to control us with the HAARP research program.

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dollibug February 21 2014 at 10:58 AM

So just how many of the people who GOT the FLU or DIED from it had gotten the FLU SHOT.....has this been reported or does anyone really know?

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Hey Angie! February 21 2014 at 7:50 AM

Still calling 2009 a pandemic? I remember the fear the CDC tried to cause about H1N1, swine flu. The pressure on everyone to take the shot. The coverage of flu and the flu shot was not as intense this time around even tho it was H1N1 again.

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poolcue1950 February 21 2014 at 7:32 AM

ITS ALOT OF CRAP I GOT THE SHOT OCT OF 2013 .I AM 64 I HAVE BEEN SICK SINCE .I WILL NEVER GET THE SHOT AGAIN .

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1 reply
nam2205 poolcue1950 February 21 2014 at 9:25 AM

When they came out with the first swine flue shot about 36 years ago I got it. I was sick for a long time. I swore I would never get it again, Sinse then I never got the flue.

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suecnrd nam2205 February 21 2014 at 9:35 AM

You didn't get the flue, but, did you get the chimney?

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Jackie February 21 2014 at 11:50 AM

So the young and middle-aged are the most cases this year...isn't the age group that Obamacare desperately needs to sign up in order to make it work?

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fjdoran February 21 2014 at 11:12 AM

The beginning of this article says that this winter has been a milder one for flu (mainly for elderly and very young). Could this possibly be that with all the bad weather - snow, ice and school closings etc) that people have been confined to their homes more and reduced the amount of contact with the virus?

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cas312 February 21 2014 at 10:43 AM

This isn't a joke people! My 40 yr old son never had a flu shot and this year we almost lost him to the H1N flu. He was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia in both lungs and near kidney failure. He was in a medially induced coma and placed in a rotation bed to keep the fluid in his lungs from settling in one area of the lungs for 3 weeks. He was also put on the ECMO machine which takes the blood from the body and infuses oxygen into it and then pumps the blood back into the body. A tracheostomy was required to assist his breathing, and he had to have a stomach tube so they could get norishment into him. When he was brought out of the coma, he had lost an enormous amount of muscle mass, and he could barely lift his arm to take a drink of water, let alone walk.

He survived but has a long way to go with physical therapy.

GET YOUR FLU SHOT!!!!

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ELSIE February 21 2014 at 10:07 AM

when they inject that so call flu shot in ur body..they injecting the virus and 20 other bull s..... that ur body dont need...and what happen is u get the flu.......u get sick as a dog u have to see the doctor and the doc and farmacy make some extra money giving you some antibiotic that u dint need .if they dint give u the shot..........i havent gotten the sick in the last 3 years..and is exacly the time i havent had the shot........that flu shot is a killer look it up......dont let put it in ur kids...back in the days we dint have all this and ppl live to be 100 with no deceaces.......

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msmichalczyks February 21 2014 at 9:44 AM

I'm a young working adult and I never get the flu vaccine - I prefer to just risk it - this year, I got the flu for the first time in a few years and it was intense - I'm pretty sure I died...but I forced fluids to stay hydrated and got plenty of rest and bounced back in a week - vaccinate children and the elderly all you want, but I could use a debilitating stomach virus before swimsuit season every year - I look great! (not healthy at all, but great! LOL)

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