Is The Flu Too Common That We Are Ignoring Its Risks?
Is the Flu too Common? I bet it would be nearly impossible for you to guess how many deaths in the United States were related to the Flu last year? Maybe 25,000? Maybe 50,000? Those guesses would be wrong and quite wrong. It may be the case that we are overlooking the flu shot and that the flu is too common.
Over 80,000 people died last year according to the most recent records from the CDC. But that number only paints a small picture of the real problem. Last year was the deadliest single year with regards to flu deaths in the last 40 years. There were over 900,000 hospitalizations associated with the flu.
In the last few years – the lowest number of deaths was 2011-12 with approximately 12,000. The next year was higher – 2012-13 had 56,000.
This was an especially severe year – meaning that there was an increased number of flu related cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
180 children died from the flu which is also the highest number in a non-pandemic flu season. Mot of those who died, die not receive a vaccine – approximately 80%. Things really started to see an upswing in overall flu cases in November of 2017. January 2018 was again hit really hard and this continued through the end of March.
It is important to note that the estimated effectiveness of the flu shot last year was 40%. “The vaccine is not perfect,” said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “But give the vaccine credit for softening the blow.”
CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund pointed out some interesting things:
1.) Typically, one region is hit hard by the flu and then it sweeps through the country. That did not happen last year – there was a three week period where the entire country was hit very hard.
2.) There was a large amount of cases across all age groups. It was classified has High Severity over all age groups – the first time ever.
3.) The percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was at or above the epidemic threshold for 16 straight weeks.
Other important information noted:
1.) 49% of all pregnant women received a flu shot last year.
2.) Woman during Pregnancy who get the flu usually do very poorly.
3.) The fetus can be affected if the mother gets the flu.
4.) The flu shot is safe during each of the 3 trimesters.
Who is most at risk during the flu season?
1.) Older adults
2.) Pregnant women
3.) People with chronic medial conditions
The Flu should be taken very seriously. Overlooking the need for a vaccine or doing basic things like washing hands, keeping clean, covering your cough, and staying away from those who are sick.
Below is a list of deaths in 2017. Flu related deaths would be #7 on this list – just behind Diabetes.
1.) Heart disease: 635,260 (Cardiac Heart Disease)
2.) Cancer: 598,038
3.) Accidents (unintentional injuries): 161,374
4.) Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 154,596
5.) Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 142,142
6.) Alzheimer’s disease: 116,103
7.) Diabetes: 80,058
Summary of the 2017-2018 Influenza Season By the CDC: