The last flu season was the longest in a decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Up to 26.3 million people got sick and as many as 31,200 died as two waves of influenza swept through the country from October through March.
The effectiveness of the influenza vaccine varies each year, but it absolutely provides the best protection against becoming sick - or even dying - from flu. During the 2016-2017 flu season, the flu vaccine prevented an estimated 5.3 million flu cases, 2.6 million flu-related medical visits and 85,000 hospitalizations. Consider these additional statistics from the CDC:
Flu shots for adults:
- Reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor due to flu by 40 to 60 percent when the vaccine is a good match for circulating strains.
- Decreased the risk of being admitted to the adult intensive care unit with flu by 82 percent from 2012 to 2015, according to a 2018 study.
Flu shots for children:
- Significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza, according to a 2017 study.
- Reduced the number of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit admissions by 74% from 2010 to 2012, according to a 2014 study.
Flu shots for pregnant women:
- Help protect their babies from flu for several months after birth, when babies would otherwise not be old enough for vaccination.
- Reduce their own risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection by one-half and reduce their risk of hospitalization with flu by 40 percent, according to a 2018 study.
Flu shots for people with chronic conditions:
- Reduce the incidence of hospitalizations for those with diabetes or chronic lung diseases.
- Lower the rate of cardiac events, especially for those who had a cardiac event in the previous year.
People who got a flu shot but still got the flu:
- Were 59 percent less likely to be admitted to the ICU than those who had not been vaccinated, according to a 2018 study.
- Spent an average four fewer days in the ICU with flu than those who were not vaccinated.
Keep in mind that getting a flu shot doesn’t just protect you. It also protects those around you by helping reduce the spread of flu.
The flu shot is recommended for those 6 months of age or older, and it’s especially important for people at high risk of serious complications. This includes adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, young children, people with asthma, heart disease, previous stroke, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer/history of cancer and children with neurologic conditions.
To learn more about flu shots and other vaccinations, click here.