Flu vaccine prevented 6.6 million illnesses last year, says CDC

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccines prevented 6.6 million illnesses and 79,000 hospitalizations last year. Health officials urge people to get flu shots to prepare for upcoming “peak” months of this flu season.

Federal health officials are urging all Americans six months and older to get the flu vaccine in preparation for this year’s flu season, after evidence showed that the vaccine protected more people against the disease last year.

Last year’s flu season was more severe than recent seasons, according to findings by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The season started earlier than expected, causing 381,000 people to become hospitalized and 169 children to die from the flu last year.

There is good news, however. Although the virus impacted many lives, the flu vaccine also prevented millions more from becoming ill.
“We estimate that during last year’s flu season, flu vaccination prevented 6.6 million people from getting sick with flu, 3.2 million from going to see a doctor and at least 79,000 hospitalizations,” Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a CNN article Thursday, calling the findings on the flu vaccine and protection “eye-opening”

Although Friden explained the importance of getting vaccinated, less than half of Americans — 40 percent—have gotten the flu shot this year. To put the findings by health officials into perspective, if 70 percent of Americans had gotten the flu vaccine last year, another 4.4 million cases of flu and 30,000 hospitalizations would have been prevented. As the flu season begins to pick up across the country, especially in some Southeastern states, Frieden and other health officials now use the data to urge people to get vaccinated.

“We know that it will increase in the coming weeks and months, but we cannot predict where and when and how severe this year’s flu season will be,” Frieden stated in an article for WebMD. “What we can predict is that the best way you can protect yourself against flu is to get a flu vaccine. “It’s not too late to get vaccinated.

CDC’s Center for Global Health Director Dr. Anne Schuchat also spoke of the importance of getting vaccinated as soon as possible, noting that flu season typically peaks between January and March. She also explained that it was particularly important for children to get the flu shot.

“Already, three children have died this year from the flu,” Shuchat said in an article for CNN. “We hate to see anyone die from the flu, but particularly children. I really urge parents to make sure their children are vaccinated.”

Source: digital journal

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