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At a Glance
* An estimated 15 million have been stricken with the flu in the U.S. so far.
* The virus has killed some 8,200 in the U.S. alone.
* Youth flu deaths have more than doubled compared to last season.
Several schools in the U.S., and in some cases entire districts, have canceled classes in recent days due to a high percentage of students sick with the flu and other seasonal illnesses. Schools were closed Monday and Tuesday in Jefferson County, Tennessee, about 30 miles east of Knoxville, WBIR.com reported. Classes were canceled Friday and Monday in Union County, Tennessee, the report added.
In Ohio, the Zane Trace School District was closed Monday, according to the Chillicothe Gazette.
Zane Trace Superintendent Jerry Mowery told the newspaper on Monday that all activities and classes were canceled and school buildings were disinfected. Mowery estimated that about one in four students in the school system, about 40 miles south of Columbus, had the flu.
"We might be just a little under that, however, we seem to see it increasing in the last couple school days, Thursday to Friday and then today it's kind of hit our staff," he said. "It's rolling into our staff ... and we have it with our bus drivers, so we're getting into personnel."
Public health officials have said this year's flu season is unique because two strains of the virus – influenza B and influenza A – are spreading at almost equal rates.
Influenza B was dominant at the beginning of the season. Since that particular strain doesn't affect older people as much, officials predicted there might be fewer flu deaths this year.
But that also means the flu has hit children especially hard.
At least 54 children have died of the flu this season, according to the CDC, compared to 22 pediatric deaths reported by this time last year. More than 50% of those who have tested positive for the flu have been under the age of 25.
Flu vaccines are updated to better match viruses expected to be circulating in the United States.
* The A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine component was updated from an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus to an A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus.
* The A(H3N2) vaccine component was updated from an A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 A(H3N2)-like virus to an A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus.
* Both B/Victoria and B/Yamagata virus components from the 2018-2019 flu vaccine remain the same for the 2019-2020 flu vaccine.
All regular-dose flu shots will be quadrivalent. (No trivalent regular-dose flu shots will be available this season.)
Never trust China.
Previous research suggested low temperatures and humidity in the winter create a favorable environment for transmitting the flu virus. However, the 2017-2018 flu season was one of warmest on record and yet also one of the deadliest. The Centers for Disease Control reported 186 children's deaths during the 2017-2018 season. The previous high was 171 during the 2012-2013 season.
During the 2017-2018 flu season, scientists found that the extreme fluctuations in weather during the autumn months essentially kick-started the flu, building a patient population early in the season that snowballed in densely populated areas given the contagious nature of the virus.