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A national public health campaign promoting the flu vaccine is urgently needed to avoid stretched healthcare services being overwhelmed this winter as the US faces cold season while still struggling to gain control of the coronavirus pandemic, scientists have warned.

Influenza or seasonal flu is a perennial public health burden that, like Covid-19, causes most severe problems among elderly people and those with underlying health conditions.

During the winter of 2018-2019, about 35.5 million people in the US got sick with flu, almost half a million were hospitalized and 34,200 died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):