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As the death toll continues to rise each week, the CDC remains unchanged on strongly recommending immunization, most especially after its most recent analysis revealed vaccines to provide substantial protection against strains of influenza A and B viruses.

"In severe seasons in the past over 700,000 people have been hospitalized and 56,000 people died from influenza". Health officials are also reminding clinicians to promptly treat flu patients - particularly young children and those who are who are at high risk of serious flu complications - with antiviral medications. "It's better than nothing", she said.

And more than two-thirds of flu cases have been caused by the H3N2 strain, which is "often linked to more severe illness", CDC Director Anne Schuchat tells CNN.

Still, even with lower effectiveness against H3N2, "I would still take 25 percent over nothing any day of the week", Belongia said. This year's mix shows better protection against other now circulating strains of influenza, such as H1N1, than it does against H3N2.

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And that has many people asking, "Why is it so deadly?"

The agency did not offer additional details on the child. Flu strains mutate every year. "That's a signal of how very intense this flu season has been". Canadian researchers estimated a 17% effectiveness rate.

In bad flu seasons like this one, the CDC estimates that as many as 56,000 Americans will die. For the last week of confirmed data (Jan. 28 through February 3), the CDC reported the highest rate of hospitalization for flu ever recorded since the current system was implemented in 2005.

Frieden, who is now the CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, a nonprofit that focuses on preventing epidemics, says this year's flu season, while worse than expected, didn't totally catch us off guard. Among the 54 whose vaccination status was known, 74 percent had not been vaccinated.

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"The risk for H3N2 associated medically attended influenza illness was reduced by more than half (59 percent) among vaccinated children", the team noted.

Recognizing flu warning signs is critical too. The percentage of visits to emergency departments and admissions to hospitals from emergency departments continued to climb, though not as rapidly as in the previous week.

However, the CDC readjusted its numbers down slightly in Friday's report, meaning this season did not quite match the intensity of flu activity seen in October 2009.

Based on data from more than 4,500 people in five states, the vaccine appears to be about 36 percent effective against all the strains of the flu.

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