In order to help stop the flu from spreading from Europe to the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has moved Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Portugal to its highest level of risk for being infected with the flu.
However, the CDC said Friday that travelers should not stop flying to or from those countries.
“Immunization is the only way to prevent the spread of flu in the U.S.,” CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said in a statement. “Over the last few years, the flu season has been more severe than usual. While we may not see influenza of this magnitude this year, it is still a good idea to get vaccinated against flu.”
Spain has seen “intense activity of flu” through March 20, and the proportion of cases/schools infected has increased. The Netherlands and Belgium have seen activity of flu for more than a week. However, the Netherlands has a highly effective flu vaccine. The UK and France are seeing fewer cases due to their low-level flu vaccine effectiveness.
France is seeing positive activity, but the risk of flu is less than France and above all in the UK, the CDC said.
Healthcare workers, the elderly, infants, and health care facilities are most susceptible to severe disease and death from flu. The CDC recommends that all people over six months of age, including children, get vaccinated.
The CDC said that flu cases and outbreaks in the US are fairly low compared to years such as 2009-2010, 2014-2015, and 2014-2015, when the flu was widespread throughout the country. This year’s flu vaccine is likely doing more to prevent the flu than it does to spread the flu. The risk for severe disease and death from the flu, however, remains very high for people who do not have a flu vaccination.