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With up to 7.3 million people hit by flu this season, scientists search for better vaccine

Instead of relying on people to get vaccinated every year, scientists are getting closer to a universal flu vaccine that would last through multiple seasons.

Posted: Jan 11, 2019 1:42 PM
Updated: Jan 11, 2019 1:45 PM


Between 6.2 million and 7.3 million people in the United States have developed the flu this season, according to data released Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is the first time the agency has provided an in-season estimate of national flu cases.

The CDC also estimates that between 2.9 million and 3.5 million people have seen a doctor because of the flu since the season began in October. Between 69,300 and 83,500 people have been hospitalized because of the virus.

Thirty states have reported widespread flu activity, although flu is present in every state. Fifteen states reported high levels of flu activity as of the week ending January 5. That's four fewer states than the previous week.

The number of children who died of flu increased. Three children's deaths related to the flu were reported in the week ending January 5, bringing the pediatric death toll to 16 for this season, according to the CDC.

Provisional data on how well this season's flu vaccine is working to prevent people from getting sick won't be available for at least several more weeks, according to the CDC.

Last season's flu shot was only 40% effective, and only 37% of adults got vaccinated. The result, experts say: An estimated 80,000 Americans died during last year's remarkably severe flu season, which was the deadliest in more than four decades.

Efforts are underway to create a better vaccine.

Instead of relying on people to get vaccinated every year, scientists are getting closer to a flu vaccine that would last through multiple seasons, called a universal flu vaccine.

'It will be a game-changer,' said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health. 'It also would very likely be a much more effective vaccine than the ones we have to make each year, hoping that we guess accurately as to what the influenza virus that season will be.'

The National Institutes of Health is investigating several methods to achieve a universal vaccine.

One candidate from the Israel-based biopharmaceutical company BiondVax is in large-scale trials in Europe and smaller trials in the United States.

At a congressional hearing on flu preparedness in March, Fauci emphasized the need for a universal flu vaccine and the difficulty in creating one.

For a universal flu vaccine to work, it has to target certain parts of the virus that don't change much from season to season, and that's no easy task.

There's even a possibility it might not work.

'We'll know probably by the end of 2020, the beginning of 2021, whether or not we do have a successful universal flu vaccine,' Fauci said.

Until then, Americans will continue to have to keep getting vaccinated every year, which is still better than getting no flu shot at all.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49063

Reported Deaths: 2732
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11760689
Lake5276246
Elkhart340255
Allen2835133
St. Joseph200169
Cass16429
Hamilton1608101
Hendricks1425100
Johnson1296118
Porter76738
Tippecanoe7359
Clark66844
Madison66764
Bartholomew59145
Vanderburgh5876
LaPorte58326
Howard58058
Kosciusko5624
Marshall5016
Noble48528
LaGrange4779
Jackson4733
Boone45443
Delaware45252
Hancock45236
Shelby43125
Floyd38444
Morgan32731
Monroe30928
Montgomery29720
Grant29626
Clinton2902
Dubois2886
Henry28216
White26610
Decatur25432
Lawrence24825
Dearborn23823
Vigo2388
Warrick22729
Harrison21622
Greene19032
Miami1862
Jennings17712
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess14817
Wayne1436
Orange13623
Perry1359
Steuben1302
Franklin1268
Ripley1247
Jasper1232
Wabash1142
Carroll1102
Fayette1037
Newton9910
Gibson982
Whitley975
Starke943
Randolph804
Huntington782
Jefferson762
Wells751
Fulton721
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox640
Clay604
Rush583
Owen501
Adams491
Benton480
Posey450
Sullivan451
Spencer441
Brown421
Blackford392
Crawford320
Fountain322
Tipton311
Switzerland280
Parke240
Martin220
Ohio180
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 60181

Reported Deaths: 2991
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin10879439
Cuyahoga8277383
Hamilton6287206
Lucas2836303
Marion273639
Summit2241207
Pickaway220541
Montgomery220131
Mahoning1861239
Butler167447
Columbiana130960
Stark1156113
Lorain106468
Trumbull99774
Warren89525
Clark7809
Delaware61715
Fairfield60517
Tuscarawas58510
Belmont55522
Medina54332
Lake52920
Licking52012
Miami47531
Portage46159
Wood45251
Ashtabula43744
Clermont4317
Geauga41443
Wayne36552
Richland3515
Allen32841
Mercer2909
Greene2879
Darke25326
Erie25022
Holmes2453
Huron2282
Madison2029
Ottawa16024
Washington14020
Sandusky13814
Crawford1365
Putnam13215
Ross1323
Coshocton1302
Hardin12312
Morrow1181
Auglaize1074
Jefferson922
Union921
Monroe8917
Muskingum891
Hancock831
Preble801
Athens791
Hocking798
Guernsey763
Lawrence740
Williams722
Shelby704
Clinton680
Logan651
Fulton630
Ashland621
Carroll603
Wyandot605
Brown591
Scioto540
Defiance533
Knox531
Fayette480
Highland461
Champaign441
Van Wert420
Perry371
Seneca352
Henry320
Jackson260
Paulding260
Adams241
Pike240
Vinton222
Gallia201
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
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