2022-23 Flu Season More Severe for Youth Than Most Recent Years

Administrators noted the spread of respiratory illness in schools last fall, and CDC data confirms high rates of flu-related medical visits.

Dive Brief:
  • Last school year’s influenza season was more severe for children and youth and also started earlier than most previous seasons, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The CDC noted cases emerged in early October and peaked in late November and December. Rates of flu-related medical visits and hospitalizations were higher for children and adolescents ages 5-17 than any other season since 2016-17.
  • Among those hospitalized during the 2022-23 season, a lower percentage were vaccinated than in previous seasons. However, flu-related deaths remained low and consistent with past seasons.
Dive Insight:

Health experts in the 2022-23 school year advised schools to keep an eye out for everyday preventative measures against common illnesses like the flu and cold, including keeping children home if they are sick and regularly washing hands.

The flu, along with respiratory syncytial virus — also known as RSV — led to staff and student absences, as well as school closures in some cases.

This season is no different, with school systems canceling in-person classes and extracurriculars just weeks into the 2023-24 school year due to staff and student illnesses. The pauses, albeit temporary when compared to COVID-19 closures, still have educators and parents worried about their impact on academic recovery.

In its guidance for educators, the CDC warns that “flu seasons are unpredictable” in their timing, severity and duration.

The agency said schools should:

  • Encourage students, parents and staff to get vaccinated, top the spread of germs by staying home when sick, and wash their hands.
  • Establish relationships with local and state public health officials.
  • Provide enough supplies like tissues, soap and water to maintain proper hygiene.

The CDC also advises schools to routinely and correctly clean and disinfect. This typically means sanitizing desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, faucet handles and other commonly used surfaces on a daily basis.

Original Source: https://www.k12dive.com/news/cdc-2022-23-flu-season-more-severe-hospitalizations-schools-shut-down/696550/