New CDC surveillance data show there have been more than 880,000 influenza infections nationwide so far this season, including 6,900 hospitalizations and 360 deaths, making for an unusually early and brutal cycle. The burden of influenza has not reached the current level in more than a decade. “The data are ominous,” remarks William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University. “Not only is flu early, it also looks very severe.” The troubling trend is even more concerning, he adds, considering that influenza vaccinations are trailing where they usually are at this point. According to CDC, an estimated 128 million doses have been administered so far, off from 139 million a year earlier. “That makes me doubly worried,” says Schaffner, who predicts this season could be the worst in 13 years. Also adding to the dire outlook is the list of other virus threats — including coronavirus, more resistant COVID-19 subvariants, and respiratory syncytial virus — that are circulating along with influenza. Moreover, Americans have largely abandoned face coverings, social distancing, and other COVID prevention measures that likely contributed to low influenza numbers over the past 2 years. (Read More) – May Require Paid Subscription