Flu cases up 23% compared to 2020, Walgreens' data shows

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As of Oct. 9, flu cases in the U.S. are up 23 percent compared to last year, when flu activity was historically low due to widespread COVID-19 mitigation measures, according to new data from Walgreens' Flu Index

The pharmacy chain's flu index for the 2021-2022 season launched Oct. 18. It's based on retail prescription data across Walgreens locations for antiviral medications used to treat influenza. While activity is up 23 percent relative to last year's influenza season, it's still low compared to pre-pandemic seasons. 

"It's early in the flu season, and flu activity remains low compared to a normal flu season, but the CDC recommends getting a flu shot by the end of October and before flu spreads in local communities," Walgreens said in an Oct. 18 news release. 

The 10 states with the highest flu activity as of Oct. 9 were Nevada, Mississippi, Texas, New Mexico, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama and Alaska. 

The data also broke down flu activity based on market area, with Las Vegas and several communities in Texas among the top 10 areas with the most flu activity. Other southern communities in Alabama and Mississippi were also among the top 10 market areas with the highest flu activity. The high level of flu activity in Las Vegas may be because it's a top tourist destination where there is increased face-to-face interaction, while southern markets have shown widespread flu activity over the last two flu seasons, according to Walgreens.


Overall, lab-confirmed flu activity across the U.S. is low at this time, according to the CDC.

 

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