Friday, January 5, 2018

Avoid the Flu – Get Vaccinated

For the week of December 16, 2017, 23 states, including Connecticut, reported widespread flu activity. About 4% of all doctor visits were for influenza-like illness, as compared with 3% the week before. The national baseline is 2.2%. Nine children have died due to the flu this season alone.

Per the CDC website: “Seasonal flu viruses can be detected year-round; however, seasonal flu activity often begins as early as October and November and can continue to occur as late as May. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.”

The CDC estimates that flu has resulted in between 9 and 36 million illnesses each year in the United States, and up to 700,000 hospitalizations. The number of flu deaths is not accurately reported, since not everyone is tested and influenza deaths are often the result of complications secondary to another medical problem. However, their mathematical estimate is as high as 56,000 people annually.

Despite the CDC’s recommendation that everyone over the age of 6 months should receive a flu vaccine, only about 50% of Americans do so. This is due to misconceptions around it, including its safety and the belief that the vaccine can give one the flu, which is incorrect. (The vaccines contain an inactivated virus, meaning the viruses are no longer infectious, or a particle designed to look like a flu virus to your immune system.)

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