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Between 6.2 million and 7.3 million people in the U.S. have been sick with the flu since October, according to data released Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least half of those people have sought medical care for their illness, the federal health officials estimated, and between 69,000 and 84,000 people have been hospitalized from Oct. 1 through Jan. 5.
This is the first time the CDC has provided flu estimates for the 2018-2019 season, and the numbers cover about 8.5 percent of the U.S. population, or about 27 million people, federal health officials said.
The flu season typically runs from October and can run as late as May, with activity tending to peak between December and February, according to the CDC. The federal agency recommends getting vaccinated early, ideally by the end of October, before the flu starts spreading.
Babies older than six months should get vaccinated, either with a traditional shot or, for those two years or older, a nasal spray called FluMist.
Thirty-seven percent of U.S. adults were estimated to have been vaccinated last flu season, down 6 percentage points from the year before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, the CDC estimates the flu killed more than 80,000 people and caused more than 900,000 hospitalizations last year.
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