Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky on Monday shared “good news” about this year’s annual flu vaccine, calling it “lifesaving.”
Walensky said the shot appears to be effective against the influenza strain that’s circulating.
“Right now, the good news is that it looks like it is a very good match,” she told reporters.
This comes as cases of both COVID and flu have been on the rise. Walensky called the trend “worrisome” amid the holiday season, when many are gathering indoors with little ventilation.
So far this season, there have been at least 8.7 million illnesses, 78,000 hospitalizations, and 4,500 deaths from flu, according to CDC estimates. Over 19,000 patients were hospitalized with flu during the week ending on Nov. 26.
The best way to protect against infection and severe illness from flu is getting the annual shot, the CDC says. The vaccine is recommended for everyone above 6 months old.
“I want to emphasize that the flu vaccine can be lifesaving and importantly there is still time to get vaccinated to be protected against flu this season,” Walensky said.
As of Monday, the U.S. has recorded a weekly total of over 303,100 COVID cases, 1,780 deaths and over 4,470 hospitalizations.
Walensky recommended face masks for people in areas of high COVID transmission — as well as other precautions, including hand washing and staying home when unwell.
“One need not wait on CDC action in order to put a mask on,” Walensky said.
Over 180 counties, districts, or territories are currently displaying a high COVID-19 community level, according to the agency.