You will need to read the full commentary and get a look at the graphs to fully understand why this is important information.
Quote from scienceblogs.com
The "unprecendented" year we are having shows up in the left of each panel. The rates are a solid line running across the bars. the bars are case counts (note to CDC: lose the bars. They are obscuring the picture). To see how unusual this is, look at the top panel (0 - 4 years), where the solid line has risen to 1.4 cases per 10,000 infants and toddlers in week 40 (first week in October). In the three previous years that seasonal risk level isn't reached until the 3rd week in January. We are 3 months in advance of the last three years by this measure, and the case count for that age group is still rising. For the 5 - 17 year old panel the difference is more dramatic. We've already reached the risk level we would normally see for the whole flu season, and we are just getting started. That's the group being hit the hardest, and half the fatalities since September 1 have been in the 12 - 17 year old age group, confirming that.
For adults between 18 and 50, the picture is like that for the under 4 year olds: about 3 months in advance compared to the bad flu year of 2007 - 2008 and already exceeding that for the entire flu seasons of the other two years. This is the age group populating the ICU beds. Even though population rates may be smaller, there are many more of them.
It is true that seasonal influenza kills a lot of people every year. They are mainly seniors, people like me. People care about seniors, of course, but our deaths are considered part of the natural order of things. Old people die. If it's not one thing, it's another. And of course our mortality rate is very high, compared to all other age groups. Even if the number of infants, children, teens and healthy adults double or triple or quadruple, the number of deaths may not ever reach what happens normally to seniors during seasonal flu, but the psychological and social impact is considerably greater. That's one of the fallacies in comparing the numbers of deaths from this flu with the usual seasonal flu.
Where this is going to go, we don't know. But as CDC's Dr. Schuchat remarked concerning the increased mortality in babies, children and teens, what we are seeing is "very sobering." That's not because of the numbers of deaths, but because of who is dying. And as a parent and grandparent, I have to agree. Those deaths are very sobering.
The Editors of Effect Measure are senior public health scientists and practitioners. Paul Revere was a member of the first local Board of Health in the United States (Boston, 1799). The Editors sign their posts "Revere" to recognize the public service of a professional forerunner better known for other things.