Only 1 child died of flu this season – down from nearly 200


FILE – This Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020 file photo shows influenza vaccine syringes at the L.A. Care Health Plan and Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan’s Community Resource Center’s Free Drive-Thru vaccination event in Los Angeles. February is usually the peak of flu season, with doctors’ offices and hospitals packed with suffering patients. But not in 2021. Flu has virtually disappeared, with reports coming in at far lower levels than anything seen in decades. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

(NEXSTAR) – There was only one pediatric death during the 2020-2021 influenza season, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

That number is sharply lower than in years past.

During the 2019-2020 flu season, for instance, nearly 200 children died of the flu.

Officials recorded 144 pediatric deaths during the 2018-2019 flu season, and 188 deaths in the season before that.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

During this year’s flu season, which begins Oct. 1 and lasts until Feb. 20, hospitalizations for flu patients of all ages have fallen sharply.

“Fourteen states reported 193 laboratory confirmed influenza hospitalizations for an overall cumulative hospitalization rate of 0.7 per 100,000 population,” according to Influenza Hospitalization Surveillance Network data. “This is much lower than average for this point in the season and lower than rates for any season since routine data collection began in 2005, including the low severity 2011-12 season.”

Some experts trying to determine the cause of the flu all but disappearing in the U.S. have pointed to preventative measures used to fight COVID-19 like masks, physical distancing and virtual education.

Others point to increased flu vaccinations and a decrease in world travel.

University of Michigan flu expert Dr. Arnold Monto, told the Associated Press in February that COVID-19 might have muscled the virus aside this fall and winter. How exactly that works is not yet full understood, but Monto said it fits the patterns doctors see when certain flu strains diminish the reach of others.

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