If you were wondering just how bad this flu season really is, new Gallup data show this past December was one of the worst flu months in years. On average, 4 percent of Americans reported they had the flu on any given day in December, which Gallup said makes this the worst December since the polling organization started tracking flu season in 2008. It's also one of the worst months for flu reports in the past seven years, Gallup said.
The flu has already killed at least 21 children this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just a little more than a month ago, the CDC warned that this season could be an especially bad one.
January or February are usually the worst months for flu reports, so it's possible that flu season will only get worse. Or it may be that flu season has already peaked, but it's too early to tell, Gallup said.
As my colleague Jonathan Capehart points out, Americans just a few months ago freaked out too much over Ebola — a virus that only four people in the United States have been infected with — and haven't shown nearly as much concern for the danger from this flu season. Sure, flu season comes and goes every year, while Ebola was new to America and highly dangerous. But the risk of being infected with it was almost non-existent, unless you were a health-care worker treating Ebola patients.
A Gallup poll from early November show the disconnect between Americans' fears of Ebola and the flu. At the time, 17 percent of Americans said Ebola was the country's most important health-care problem, ahead of things like obesity (10 percent), cancer (10 percent), diabetes (2 percent) and "government interference" (2 percent). The survey, takenaround the start of flu season, showed only 1 percent of Americans who said flu was the country's most important health care problem. It'd be interesting to see how that same poll would turn out today.
Much has been written about how the flu vaccine isn't as effective this year. But public health officials are still urging you to get vaccinated if you haven't already.