FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims The CDC ‘Will Not Be Providing Data For The Flu’ For The 2020-21 Season

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “will not be providing data for the flu” for the 2020-2021 season.

Verdict: False

While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted at least one way the CDC collects influenza data, the CDC has published reports and data for the 2020-2021 flu season.

Fact Check:

Social media users are sharing a screen grab from the CDC website along with the claim that the agency “will not be providing data for the flu” in an attempt to baselessly suggest a “cover-up” to “show more covid cases.” Two sentences in the screen grab have been highlighted.

“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this system will suspend data collection for the 2020-21 influenza season,” reads the highlighted section. “Data from previous seasons are available on FluView Interactive.” (RELATED: Did Anthony Fauci Attribute 1918-1919 Spanish Flu Deaths To Face Masks In A 2009 Study?)

While screen grab and the two sentences on the CDC website are real, the information has been misinterpreted. The highlighted statement can be found on a section of the CDC’s website titled “Overview of Influenza Surveillance in the United States.” The page gives summaries of the eight data sources the CDC uses to survey influenza trends within the U.S.

The highlighted note appears under the third data source – “Summary of the Geographic Spread of Influenza” – and indicates that this specific “system” will not collect data for the 2020-2012 influenza season. In previous flu seasons, state and territorial health departments would report the “estimated level of geographic spread of influenza activity in their jurisdictions each week through the State and Territorial Epidemiologists Report,” according to the CDC website.

That “Summary of the Geographic Spread of Influenza,” however, is only one of eight data sources listed as being utilized by the CDC for flu surveillance. The CDC appears to still actively track and publish influenza data in the form of “FluView,” its weekly influenza surveillance report.

For instance, the CDC has posted a report for the 2020-2021 flu season for the week ending Oct. 24. It notes that the “percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza at clinical laboratories is 0.2% this week.” FluView Interactive also shows data for the age group distribution of positive influenza specimens reported by public health laboratories through the week ending Oct. 24.

Flu activity often starts to increase in October, typically peaking between December and February, though it can last as late as May, according to the CDC. The CDC website states that flu vaccinations “should be administered by the end of October” but “should continue to be offered as long as influenza viruses are circulating locally.”

The CDC did not respond to a request for comment.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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