This flu season was the deadliest for children in nearly a decade

The CDC reported 172 pediatric flu deaths between October 2017 and May 2018 — marking one of the deadliest flu seasons for children since authorities began recording these deaths 14 years ago, according to The Washington Post.

This flu season's pediatric death toll, which the CDC reported June 8, surpasses the 171 child deaths reported for 2012-2013, the previous record for a regular season. The flu season's total hospitalization rate for children and adults was the highest since 2005.

Of children for whom health officials recommend a flu shot, less than one quarter who died this season had been completely vaccinated, the CDC reported.

The number of pediatric flu deaths "is a record number since we've been keeping track, outside of the pandemic," Daniel Jernigan, MD, head of the CDC's influenza division, told The Washington Post.

Since the 172 deaths include only lab-confirmed cases reported to the CDC, the number is estimated to be higher, Dr. Jernigan said. "It's probably half of what actually occurs, because there are times when children die even before they get to the emergency room."

The CDC concluded this season was the first and only to be categorized as "high severity" across all age groups.

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