“We’ll have to see what the impact of these little changes” will be. “Flu vaccine is your best way to protect yourself against flu.” said Lynnette Brammer, who tracks flu-like illnesses for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. flu season has arrived on schedule after taking a year off, with flu hospitalizations rising and two child deaths reported, writes the Associated Press.

Last year’s flu season was the lowest on record, likely because COVID-19 measures — school closures, distancing, masks and canceled travel — prevented the spread of influenza, or because the coronavirus somehow pushed aside other viruses.

“This is setting itself up to be more of a normal flu season,” said Lynnette Brammer, who tracks flu-like illnesses for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The childhood deaths, Brammer said, are “unfortunately what we would expect when flu activity picks up. It’s a sad reminder of how severe flu can be.”

During last year’s unusually light flu season, one child died. In contrast, 199 children died from flu two years ago, and 144 the year before that.

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