This Year's Flu Hits Kids Hardest
Type B flu is more common among children and is the dominant strain for the first time in nearly 30 years. Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware have all reported cases in 2020.
The flu season is being domniated by a rare strain that hits children hardest.
Influenza B doesn't usually strike this early and hasn't been the primary flu strain in 27 years, says the CDC, but it has popped up across the country, including in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Type B is more common, and sometimes more serious, among kids. It has been responsible for 21 of the 32 deaths of children from flu so far this year, according to the CDC.
Pennsylvania has had more than 18,000 reports of the type B flu this season and fewer than 7,000 of two other strains. Influenza B has been the most common form identified in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties, although it is more dominant in other parts of the state. Of Pennsylvania's 13 deaths, none have been children.
New Jersey says type B is also its most dominant strain, with more than 2,000 cases compared to 600 of the two other strains. Two children have died from flu in the state, one each from North Jersey and South Jersey, though it is unclear which strains they contracted.
Delaware has reported one death from type B, a 65-year man. It's second death was a 68-year-old woman with type A.
Still time to get a flu vaccine
The CDC says it is not too late for everyone six months and older to get a flu vaccine and while the Washngton Post reports that this year's vaccine is not a perfect match, the CDC says it is close enough to provide some protection.
"Influenza activity is expected to continue for many weeks in the United States; additional hospitalizations and deaths, including among children, are expected to occur," said the CDC in its most recent update on Jan. 10.
If your child gets sick, it can be difficult to tell whether it is the flu or a cold and when it is safe to send them to school. The flu usually arrives quickly with fever, aches, chills, cough and headache. Fevers and headaches are rarer with a common cold.
If your kids have managed to dodge the flu bug so far, here are some tips for keeping them healthy and, if illness does strike, how to try and keep it from spreading to the rest of the family.