California health officials reported 27 flu deaths in persons under 65 years old during the current flu season compared with three deaths last year, the Department of Health and Human Services said.
Though the flu killed three Californians by this time a year ago, 68 people had died from it by the end of February, according to state data.
A spokeswoman for the firm said: "We've seen a very high level of demand in the recent week from people looking to protect themselves and their families against flu this winter and has meant some Boots stores temporarily ran out of stock for a limited time".
The flu season began in December and the Public Health Agency of Canada says more than 15,500 cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza had been reported by January 6.
This increase comes at a time when hospital workers are scrambling to deal with an ongoing shortage of intravenous fluids used to deliver medicine and treat dehydrated patients.
"We are in close contact with the vaccine manufacturers and we are confident there is sufficient vaccine availability".
Free flu jabs are available for children under nine, pensioners, pregnant women and people with certain long-term health conditions. "There's lots of flu in lots of places", says Dan Jernigan, director of CDC's influenza division.
Federal health officials cite the bad winter weather, holiday travel and the severe H3N2 strain for the high number of hospitalizations in the state and nationwide.
Even though flu activity has probably peaked, the forecast for next three months is grim.
In the past week, the CDC has seen a spike in flu-related visits to doctors' offices that report to the CDC. "If we look at similar seasons, there's at least 11 to 13 more weeks of influenza to go". In just the past week, hospitalizations have nearly doubled, going from 13.7 per 100,000 to 22.7 per 100,000.
"We strongly discourage visitors at this time", she said. "We may have a pretty robust season with these others as well", he said. That being said, the CDC still said getting a flu shot is one of the best steps you should take.
According to CDC director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, "While our flu vaccines are far from ideal, they are the best way to prevent getting sick from the flu, and it is not too late to get one".
National health officials predict the flu vaccine may only be about 32 percent effective this year.
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