Not Too Late for a Flu Shot. The Obese, Pregnant and Young Adults at Most Risk

It's probably not a surprise but almost 50% of the people hospitalized for the flu this season are obese, not just because they are overweight but because of what obesity does to the immune system. 

Acoording to USA Today, the reported percentage of obese patients hospitalized is "a high number," Elizabeth Weise quotes Zack Moore, a medical epidemiologist with the North Carolina Division of Public Health in Raleigh, N.C. "In previous years it's usually in the 20s and 30% range."

But it's just those who are overweight. This season's flu is also hospitalizing more pregnant women than normal. So far this season 22% of hospitalized patients are pregnant, whereas 4.6% is the norm, Bresee told Weise.

Researchers aren't entirely sure why these groups may be so strongly at risk, but believe it might be linked to immunological effects, Bresee added. Both obesity and pregnancy are known to alter the immune response. They also both tend to result in respiratory restrictions, Weise reports. 

The flu has been seen in every state, with widespread activity in 35 states, CDC reported Friday. That's 10 more than the previous week. This year is pretty typical for the flu, which often peaks in January or February, Weise notes. The flu's highest activity levels are in 14 states, mostly in the South and Southwest, according to CDC.

Apparently it's not too late yet to get a vaccine, though it takes two weeks to build immunity.  Some reports have said that younger people are more at risk this year, but Weise said it's anyone between 18 and 64.










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