QS Community Board

Health & Wellness January 30, 2018

The Flu Bug That Won't Quit: Why We Are Not out of the Clear Yet

Julia S., Editor

This flu season has proven to be quite overwhelming: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), their influenza-like-illness (ILI) activity indicators have already passed those during the peak of the 2014-2015 season. And the flu season is not over – there are still many more weeks left.

Recent Developments

  • There have been 37 pediatric deaths (from October 1 to January 20).
  • During the week of January 14 to 20:
    • 94% of jurisdictions reported regional or widespread flu activity (includes all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands).
    • 6.6% of outpatient visits were for ILI – three times higher than the national baseline.
  • The worldwide seasonal flu death estimate increased: Approximately 291,000 to 646,000 people die from seasonal influenza-related respiratory illnesses each year (worldwide estimate was previously between 250,000 and 500,000).

To stay up to date during the coming weeks, check out the CDC’s Weekly U.S. Map: Influenza Summary Update and Situation Update: Summary of Weekly FluView Report.

 

It's Not Too Late to Get the Flu Shot

The CDC is still recommending getting the flu shot. After all, the flu season is not over yet – and more people vaccinated means more people protected from the flu and less widespread illness.

People who are vulnerable to serious flu complications should really consider getting the vaccination. Such people include:

  • Older people
  • Very young children
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with long-term health conditions

Learn more by visiting the CDC website.

 

Flu Shot Basics

  • The flu shot is a vaccine containing a dead virus (which can’t make you sick) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot can be given to people older than six months.
  • Virus strains in the influenza vaccine are updated to keep up with the changes in the circulating flu viruses. So, to be protected from the flu, get a flu shot this year and every year.
  • The earlier a person gets vaccinated, the better his or her chances are of avoiding the flu. To find nearest flu shot location, use the Flu Vaccine Finder.

 

What Is the Flu, Anyway?

Seasonal flu is an infectious respiratory (breathing) illness caused by influenza (flu) viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Getting a flu vaccination each year is the best way to prevent contracting seasonal flu.

Some people, such as seniors age 65 and older, children younger than age two and people with certain health conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes or heart disease), are at high risk for serious seasonal flu complications.

Flu viruses mainly spread from person to person when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes or talks and droplets of saliva containing the germs land in your mouth or nose. You may also become infected by touching something with the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

The CDC says that, every year in the United States, on average:

  • 5%-20% of the population gets the flu.
  • More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications.
  • About 36,000 people die from flu-related causes.

 

For more information on various flu and public health products available to purchase for your community, browse the QuickSeries® library of guides, including Preparing for Influenza and Public Health Preparedness.

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