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Young Adults and Children are at Highest Flu Risk This Season

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This year, the highest flu risk appears to be aimed directly at children and young adults. Kids and teens have seen the highest number of cases, according to infectious disease experts. That said, the flu season is continuing to rage forward and the end is not yet for another several weeks.

This year’s flu season has been quite different from last year’s. The highest flu risk has been among different people, the season started earlier, and the main strain circulating is extremely different. The A strain is the H1N1 that is a viral form of the flu that hit the world hard in a 2009 to 2010 pandemic. It has flown under the radar over the last few years but is back with a vengeance this year.

What Does Highest Flu Risk Mean?

When experts say that certain groups such as children or teens are at the highest flu risk, they are referring to the rate of infection. It means that these groups are the people who are the most likely to actually catch the virus. That said, it doesn’t refer to the intensity of the infection. That is not covered by this risk assessment.

Still, influenza is nothing to take lightly. When people are in the highest flu risk group it also means that they are at the highest risk of getting some of the most dangerous levels of infection. After all, if they’re most likely to catch it, they also have the chance of getting the worst kind.

Why does H1N1 Make the Flu Risk Different?

Over the last few years, the highest flu risk was for H3N2, which is an influenza A strain. That was most problematic for older adults. It came with a risk of additional complication risks such as pneumonia. That said, since this year’s main strain is H1N1, it is teens and children that are mainly targeted, while seniors aren’t at as high a risk.

Flu infections and deaths have been rising this year as many states report their numbers. Kids aren’t as likely to have a built-in immunity to H1N1 from having experienced previous flu seasons in which that was the major version of the virus. As a result, their likelihood of infection is greater than that of people who have already been through it.

How to Keep Out of the Highest Flu Risk

To start, it’s not too late to get the flu shot. Everyone who is eligible to get it is advised to do so. This includes people of all ages, not just those at the highest flu risk. The more people are immunized, the smaller the chance the disease has to spread.

That said, regular hand washing and other hygienic behaviors are also helpful in reducing risk.