Flu By the Numbers: May 6, 2023

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The CDC has started reporting influenza activity in the United States. In any flu season, the data that is reported each week are preliminary and can change as new information becomes available.

As of May 6, the CDC is reporting that flu activity in the U.S. is low.

Some of these cases may not be the flu. There are also respiratory illnesses going around, including COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Flu Testing

For the week ending April 15, clinical laboratories in the U.S. tested 35,837 specimens for flu viruses, of which 1% were positive. Among the positive results, influenza A accounted for 42% of positive flu cases and influenza B accounted for 58%.

Public health laboratories in the U.S. also reported data about specimen testing to the CDC. Of the 3,661 samples tested, 50 were positive for the flu. Influenza A accounted for 36% of the positive flu cases and influenza B accounted for 64%.

Influenza patterns vary according to the specific flu virus strains that are circulating in a given year, as well as human behavior. For example, some of the changes that the pandemic brought about—such as mask wearing and social distancing—slowed down the flu spread last year.

Another factor that affects flu patterns is vaccination. Annual flu vaccines are a safe and effective way to help curb the spread of the flu and to prevent hospitalizations and deaths.

Hospitalizations and Deaths

Since the start of this year's flu season, the CDC is estimating that there have been at least:

  • 26 million illnesses
  • 290,000 hospitalizations
  • 19,000 deaths from flu (including 149 children)

How Many People Have Had Flu Shots?

The CDC also tracks how many flu vaccines have been given each year. It uses national surveys to estimate how many adults have gotten a flu shot as well as how many caregivers have vaccinated their children. While flu season is still ongoing, the numbers can change a lot.

To get a sense of how many people in the U.S. are getting flu shots, the CDC compares the current rates (as percentages) to the rates from previous years.

During the 2022-2023 flu season:

  • About 173 million flu vaccine doses have been distributed by manufacturers
  • The percentage of adults who have gotten a flu shot is 47%
  • The percentage of children who have gotten a flu shot is 55%

The CDC also tracks flu vaccine data in special populations:

  • The percentage of pregnant people who have gotten a flu shot is 48%
  • The percentage of adults over the age of 65 who have gotten a flu shot is 71%

Here's a look at where people are getting their flu vaccines this year:

  • About 47 million doses have been given at pharmacies
  • About 27 million doses have been given at provider's offices

What Information Do States Report?

The CDC tracks LIL activity levels in each state and presents a weekly flu surveillance report. LIL activity levels are defined as the following:

  • Minimal (levels 1-3)
  • Low (levels 4-5)
  • Moderate (levels 6-7)
  • High (levels 8-10)
  • Very High (levels 11-13)

State health departments track flu data provided by hospitals, clinics, clinical laboratories, and healthcare organizations. These reports can include information like the number of flu tests conducted, positivity rates, and the number of flu-like illnesses that providers saw in the patients they treated.

What Can The Data Tell Me About Flu Activities In My State?

Data on ILI activity can give you a sense of how many people have respiratory symptoms in your state.

If the ILI activity level where you live is high, it can be a sign that the flu is "going around" in your community. Having this information, you can take preventive steps, such as washing your hands frequently and getting a flu shot, to help reduce your risk of getting sick.

If you have flu-like symptoms, call your provider to see if you should have a test. They might want you to take antiviral medications such as Tamiflu to help reduce your symptoms. While you are sick, wear a mask and stay at home to help keep other people from catching the flu from you.

How Is Flu Data Different From COVID-19 Data?

The flu and COVID-19 are different illnesses, caused by different viruses, that may need different treatments. That said, the flu and COVID can have similar symptoms and can be hard to tell apart without a test.

Some specimens tested for the flu can be tested for COVID at the same time. If a flu test is negative, a person might need to have a COVID test. It's also possible for someone to have both COVID and the flu at the same time.

Testing people who are sick helps providers care for them, but it also helps us get a sense of how the viruses are circulating in our communities and how effective the vaccines for the viruses are.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Weekly U.S. influenza surveillance report.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Weekly U.S. map: influenza summary update.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FluView summary ending on October 9, 2021.