Categorized | Colorado News, National News, News

Drop in Flu Vaccinations Linked to Increase in Deaths

More people were killed by seasonal influenza last winter than any year since the 1970s.

Fewer than 4 out of 10 adults in the United States got flu shots last winter, the lowest rate in seven seasons and one likely reason that the 2017-2018 season was the deadliest in decades, 79,000 deaths.

The CDC estimates that:

  • 49 million people were sickened by flu, roughly the combined population of Texas and Florida.
  • 960,000 people were hospitalized, more than the total number of staffed hospital beds in the United States.
  • 79,000 people died, the average number of people who attend the Super Bowl. The previous high for a regular flu season, based on analyses dating back more than three decades, was 56,000 deaths.

Last winter’s flu season was so devastating, in part because it was dominated by an especially fierce virus strain. Seasons where H3N2 is dominant typically result in the most complications, especially for the very young and the old, experts say. Vaccines are also less effective against H3N2. The virus changes rapidly, requiring more updates to the seasonal vaccine, and making it that much harder for the body’s immune system to generate a good response.

This year, CDC officials are hoping to boost vaccine coverage by helping doctors and nurses make a strong case to their patients for a flu shot. A strong recommendation from a clinician makes a huge difference in whether someone gets the influenza vaccine.

Read more in The Washington Post





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