By Kayla Brantley for Dailymail.com
Sixteen more children have died of the flu this week, bringing the total to 53 and the rate of hospitalizations are the highest ever recorded, according to the CDC.
Speaking on Friday, Dr Anne Schuchat, acting CDC director said that this year’s flu is the worst since the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
Hospitals across the US are experiencing up to a 40 percent increase of flu patients, surpassing the rate of the 2014 season which was the worst on record.
Speaking on Friday, Dr Dan Jernigan, director of the CDC’s Influenza Division, said that hospitalizations in California are four times higher than the 2014 season and this year is expected to be the worst flu season in recent history.
The number of people with influenza-like illness this year (in red) has climbed past every other year, as demonstrated in this new graph from the CDC
However, Oregon reported less flu activity this week which Dr Jernigan said could represent a trend of decreasing activity.
This report comes as new research from Canada revealed this week that the vaccine is less than 20 percent effective against the dominant H3N2 strain – 14 percent less effective than what was originally thought.
CDC officials said ‘we’re not out of the woods yet’ and continue to urge everyone to get their flu shot as the B viruses and H1N1 strain are infecting patients with several more weeks of flu season to go.
There were 17,024 new laboratory confirmed illnesses this week, bringing the season total to 126,117.
There were 51.4 hospitalizations for every 100,000 people.
The flu is now widespread in 48 states, bar Hawaii and Oregon.
Dr Jernigan said on Friday that this is an unusual pattern for the flu as health officials expected activity to have already reached its peak at this time.
He said that the western part of the US is beginning to see a decline as Oregon is now reporting regional activity, but eastern states are seeing higher rates of hospitalizations and activity in the southern states remain consistent.
Hospitals in New York City are experiencing a 40 percent increase in the number of people being tested for the flu compared with this time last year, according deputy chief medical officer Sean Studer.
Patients are being placed in ‘flex’ areas which are separate waiting rooms where they are given masks.
Hospitals in Atlanta are treating up to 25 percent more patients then they did this time last year.
According to Hany Atallah, Grady Memorial Hospital’s chief of emergency medicine, they have seen more than 500 patients a day when the department typically sees about 400.
Flu activity has gone down in Oregon which Dr Dan Jernigan said is hope that the outbreak is subsiding in the west
‘Our emergency department is full, and our inpatient services are full,’ he told the Wall Street Journal. ‘Overfull, actually.’
Schools in at least 11 states have closed to disinfect classrooms after 30 percent of students called out sick with flu-like symptoms.
The CDC said it is not too late to get vaccinated if you haven’t already to protect against the virus.
However, researchers from Canada estimate that the flu vaccine is only about 17 percent effective against the H3N2 strain while it was originally thought to be 34 percent effective.
‘That means people who were vaccinated should not consider themselves invincible for this season,’ said lead researcher Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an infectious diseases expert at the BC Center for Disease Control.
Both Canada and Australia used the same vaccine which were meant to offer protection against H3N2, H1N1 and a B-strain.
Scientists originally estimated that the vaccine would be 42 percent effective offering insight to the US outbreak whose shot is about 34 percent effective.