Missed work, missed school, missed holiday activities! No one likes to catch the flu and national health organizations want you to know it’s not too late for taking a shot at prevention.
This week marks National Influenza Vaccination Week, bringing with it, the time for awareness.
During the 2017-2018 flu season, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates flu caused:
- 49 million flu illnesses – more than the combined populations of Texas and Florida
- 960,000 flu hospitalizations – more than the number of staffed hospital beds in the United States
- 79,000 deaths – more than the average number of people who attend the Super Bowl each year
Though the CDC began recommending a flu shot in October, it recommends that vaccination into December and beyond can be beneficial during most flu seasons, including this one.
During the 2016–2017 flu season, CDC estimates that flu vaccine prevented an estimated 5.3 million illnesses, 2.6 million medical visits, and 85,000 hospitalizations associated with influenza.
“Flu season most often peaks between December and March, but activity can occur as late as May,” says Dr. Dan Jernigan, Director of the Influenza Division at CDC. “We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated this season to get vaccinated now.”
Further studies show that that if just 5 percent more of the population were vaccinated during the 2016-2017 flu season, an additional 504,000 illnesses, 233,000 doctor’s visits and 6,000 hospitalizations would have been prevented.
The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone six months and older with any licensed age-appropriate flu vaccine. According to the CDC, it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection to develop in the body, so it’s best to get vaccinated early.
Who is at high-risk?
The CDC reports that some people are at high risk for serious flu-related complications that can lead to hospitalization and even death. People at high risk include pregnant women, children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old, people 65 year of age and older, and people who have certain medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
For more information on how the vaccine works, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm
Increase in flu begins
The latest reports on the influenza season indicate a 2.3 percent increase in the number of influenza like illness cases throughout the United States and report two influenza-associated pediatric deaths.
According to this week’s FluView report from the CDC, flu activity is beginning to rise for the first time this season. Twenty-one states are now reporting regional or local flu activity(Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah). However 28 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands continue to report only sporadic flu activity, which means those states are seeing small numbers of flu or one laboratory confirmed flu outbreak.
Free Flu Shot for CBEBT members
The Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust (CBEBT) Free Flu Shot Program is available for eligible employees and their enrolled dependents can get their flu shots by either attending an on-site clinic you can host through Maxim Health Systems, visiting their local pharmacy, or making an appointment with their family physician. For more information, visit https://www.cbservices.org/images/health/MYH_FluShotProgram.pdf