We May Be At Greater Risk Of Getting The Flu This Winter
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Typically, flu season extends from October to May . But last winter, influenza was practically nonexistent around the globe. In the United States, for instance, there were only about 3,000 reported cases of flu for the entire 2020-21 flu season, compared to an estimated 35 million cases the previous year.
Theres no doubt that all of the protective measures we took last year, like wearing face masks, hand washing and physical distancing, contributed to such low numbers, says Dr. Uy. In addition, many more people got the flu vaccine last year than in previous years, which may have translated into a lower infection rate. In fact, a record number of influenza vaccine doses193.8 millionwere distributed in the U.S. last year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
The downside to this good news: Since there was such low incidence of influenza last year, our immunity to the virus is likely lower this year, which may cause a spike in cases, says Dr. Uy.
Pair our lowered immunity with newly reopened schools and workplaces, along with the loosening of mask mandates, and its a really unprecedented time, says Dr. Uy. No one in the medical community knows what will happen, so were watching this closely.
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About 58 percent of kids 17 and under were vaccinated. The number of children 4 and under who got a flu shot fell by 2 percent compared to the year before, the CDC said.
These kids are vulnerable and can infect others, too, said Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician at Seattle Childrens Hospital.
Kids have a lot of snot. They have a lot of drool and they go to school. And when they go to school, they share all those secretions, Swanson said.
But she got serious, too. One hundred and eighty families put a child in a grave last year because of a vaccine-preventable infection, she said.
The Flu Shot Is Your Best Defence
This years flu season is taking place at the same time as COVID-19. Dont take any unnecessary risks with your health. Get the flu shot as early in the season as possible.
The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months old and older. It is:
- available from your doctor or nurse practitioner, and at participating pharmacies and local public health units across the province
- proven to reduce the number of doctor visits, hospitalizations and deaths related to the flu
- different each year because the virus changes frequently so you need to get it every fall
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How Many People Died From The Flu During 2020 And 2021
Numbers dropped significantly during the 2020-2021 flu season. In part, this decline has to due with coronavirus-related mask mandates, rates of vaccinations, and of course, an overall push for social distancing.
“The flu rate was extremely low. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1,675 of 818,939 respiratory specimens tested by U.S. clinical laboratories were positive for an influenza virus,” Dr. Squellati says. “The numbers were probably so low due to wearing masks, staying home more, social distancing, school closures, and other COVID-19 prevention strategies.”
Dr. Mitchell adds, “Droplets spread viruses like the flu, COVID-19, or things like RSV in the air. The steps we took to avoid the spread of COVID-19 with masks, social distancing, good hand hygiene is universal prevention for all respiratory viruses.”
In addition to a rise in availability in COVID vaccines, many people also sought flu vaccines during the 2020-2021 flu season.
“Another major deterrent was that there were 194 to 198 million flu vaccines produced and at least 193 million given,” Dr. Squellati adds.”The previous year, there were only 175 million doses produced. In 2020-2021, Americans received the flu vaccine earlier and were fully immunized by February, which is the month when the most cases of flu usually occur.”
National Influenza Surveillance Scheme
This paper provides a comprehensive summary and analysis of the National Influenza Surveillance Scheme, including surveillance systems that function outside of the Scheme, in 2015. The Scheme is coordinated by the Australian Government Department of Health and supported by a number of surveillance systems that aim to be nationally representative and monitor important aspects of severity, incidence and virology. Influenza activity monitored through its systems is presented in reports available on this page. Several jurisdictionally based surveillance systems that operate outside of the Scheme are used to inform local influenza activity trends. This paper describes the strengths and limitations of these influenza surveillance systems in terms of the aspects of influenza activity that they inform and their contribution to the overall monitoring of influenza activity in Australia.
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How Serious Is The Flu
Most people who get the flu feel better after a few days to two weeks. However, the flu can make you seriously ill. Some people develop other health issues, called complications, because of the flu. Complications can be mild, such as a sinus or ear infection, or more serious, like pneumonia.
Anyone can get sick from the flu, but some people are more likely to have complications. You are more at risk for flu and its complications if you:
- Are age 65 or older
- Have certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease
- Have heart disease or have had a stroke
- Live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
Pregnant people and children younger than five years old are also more likely to get very sick from the flu. Flu vaccination is especially important for people in these higher-risk groups. Learn more about people at increased risk for flu and its complications.
How Effective Is The 2021 Flu Vaccine
Flu vaccines in general reduce the risk of influenza infection by 40-60 percent.
Each year, researchers in the United States analyze data about influenza from around the country, then design a vaccine to protect against the four most common variants of the flu. The vaccine is then referred to the FDAs Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee , which makes the recommendation on how to proceed.
The vaccine developed for the 2021-2022 flu season is similar to the flu vaccine from the 2020-2021 flu season, but is also matched with currently circulating flu viruses. This resulted in the addition of two updates with influenza A and the influenza A vaccine virus components, according to the CDC.
The flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting sick, said Michael Mancenido, MD, an infectious disease specialist with Rochester Regional Health. Flu shots are available at most local pharmacies, primary care offices, and community health clinics. Many of these places allow for walk-in appointments, so take some time to protect your health and get the flu shot.
Flu season runs from early October through late May, with most cases picking up in late January to early February. Stay protected against any strains of the virus by getting vaccinated.
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The virus causes inflammation that affects blood vessels to the heart and brain. Flu can predispose individuals to heart attack and stroke and can also initiate a progressive slide into disability, Schaffner said.
When people who are already frail or on the edge get flu, they may never return to their pre-flu functional level.
As many as 168 million flu vaccine doses will be available this year, the CDC said. There are special vaccines for the elderly and for kids there are formulations that were not made using eggs and the needle-free FluMist vaccine is back in the mix this year.
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But even as the CDC reports that “flu vaccine coverage has increased for both children and adults over the past flu season,” a great part of the U.S. population has yet to be vaccinated.
“Especially in communities of color, there has been a lot of vaccine hesitancy, so a lot of them don’t get the flu vaccine,” Wildes said.
But together as a nation, we are moving to address health disparities highlighted during the pandemic.
Clinicians “try to engage different disenfranchised communities and patients that we know are at higher risk,” Kuppalli said. “We work on engaging them to understand their concerns when it comes to vaccines.”
This year, Walgreens also “implemented the safety precautions needed to administer vaccines in a COVID environment, and rolled out off-site clinics in churches and community centers to ensure access to care for underserved communities,” Ban said.
Remember, it’s not too late to get your flu shot this year. And even as the COVID-19 vaccines start rolling out across the country, Wildes said we “absolutely have to continue all of the safety measures” implemented during the pandemic to continue protecting ourselves from both the flu and the novel coronavirus.
Shiela Beroukhim Afrahimi, M.D., is an internal medicine resident at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California, and a contributor to the ABC News Medical Unit.
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Thursday 23 January 2020
The latest Public Health England report published at 2pm on 23 January 2020, shows that seasonal flu continues to circulate across the UK, although activity is decreasing.
Over the last week, GP consultations with flu-like illness decreased from 14.7 per 100,000 to 10.3 per 100,000 and are now below baseline levels.
Flu hospitalisation and intensive care admission rates also decreased from 2.43 per 100,000 to 1.44 per 100,000 and 0.21 per 100,000 to 0.13 per 100,000 respectively suggesting flu is having a low impact on hospital admissions as well as intensive care unit and high dependency unit admissions.
The report also shows that in week 3, 2020, no statistically significant excess all-cause mortality by week of death had been seen yet overall or by age group in England this season.
Currently, 71.4% of adults over 65, 42.5% of adults with a long-term health condition, 42.4% of pregnant women, 40.9% of 3-year-olds and 40.3% of 2-year-olds have received the flu vaccine.
At the same time last year, 70.8% of adults over 65, 46.2% of adults with a long-term health condition, 44.5% of pregnant women, 44.6% of 3-year-olds and 42.7% of 2-year-olds were vaccinated.
Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, Head of Flu, Public Health England said:
People Died In The Worst Flu Season Of The Past Decade Covid
Around 61,000 people died from influenza in the 2017-2018 flu season, the most in the last 10 years. Almost 529,000 people have died of COVID-19 as of mid-March.
With the COVID-19 vaccination effort continuing and the infection rate declining, the nation might soon return to something like normal. But the US still contends with viruses like the seasonal flu annually. While much less deadly than the COVID-19 pandemic, the average flu season kills thousands of Americans each year, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
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Why Is The Flu More Dangerous For Older Adults
The flu is more dangerous for older adults for a few reasons. One reason is that the immune system which helps your body fight infections weakens as you age. For example, because your body is busy fighting off the flu, you might pick up a secondary infection such as pneumonia. A second reason is that older adults are also more likely to have other health conditions, like diabetes, that increase their risk for complications from the flu.
The good news is the flu vaccine reduces your risk of getting the flu and of getting seriously ill if you do get sick with the flu. Flu vaccination is especially helpful for people with chronic health conditions. For example, it has been linked to lower rates of heart problems among people with heart disease and fewer hospitalizations among people who have chronic lung disease or diabetes. Learn more about the benefits of flu vaccination.
How Many People Die From The Flu Each Year
The answer is slightly complicated: The CDC doesnt have an exact count of the number of people who die from influenza each year. Instead, the federal agency develops estimates based on rates of confirmed hospitalizations from the flu.
For that reason, its difficult to compare flu deaths with those of COVID-19, which are actual documented deaths, says , associate professor of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York. In fact, COVID-19 deaths are being tracked by confirmed cases, but there are still going to be numbers of unconfirmed cases so the deaths from COVID-19 are probably higher then what is being reported, Dr. Hicar says. So far, nearly 51 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19, resulting in more than more than 803,000 deaths, per the latest data from the CDC.
Compared to the 2019-2020 flu season, for example, the CDC estimated that more than 38 million became sick with influenza, leading to 400,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths. Thats slightly lower than the 2018-2019 season and significantly less than the 2017-2018 season .
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Thursday 16 January 2020
The latest Public Health England report published at 2pm on 16 January 2020, shows that seasonal flu continues to circulate across the UK, but there are signs it has peaked.
Over the last week, flu had a low impact on hospital admissions as well as intensive care unit and high dependency unit admissions.
Flu hospitalisation and intensive care admission rates both decreased from 4.33 per 100,000 to 2.43 per 100,000 and 0.36 per 100,000 to 0.21 per 100,000 respectively.
GP consultations with flu-like illness also decreased, from 16.6 per 100,000 to 14.7 per 100,000, but remain above baseline levels.
The report also shows that in week 2, 2020, no statistically significant excess all-cause mortality by week of death had been seen yet overall or by age group in England this season.
Despite the decrease in flu activity, the virus is still circulating in the community and PHE and NHS England are strongly encouraging GPs and pharmacies to continue to vaccinate as many people as possible, as uptake remains lower than last year.
At this stage of the flu season, providers would usually begin to wind down their vaccination efforts.
However, vaccination clinics began later this season due to a delay in the World Health Organizations recommendation on influenza strains and manufacturing delays with the nasal spray for children. All supply issues have now been resolved.
Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, Head of Flu, Public Health England said:
Thursday 9 January 2019
Friday 3 January 2019
How Many Americans Die From The Flu Each Year
As flu season gets underway in the United States, the futile debate about whether influenza viruses are deadlier than Covid-19 has already reared its ugly head on social media. Yesterday, President Trump tweeted that many people die from the flu every year, “sometimes over 100,000”. The claim was quickly debunked and Twitter hid the president’s post, marking it with a tag stating that it violated its rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to Covid-19. Up to October 07, the pandemic had claimed approximately 211,000 U.S. lives, a toll that is expected to continue rising steadily over the course of the winter months. So just how wrong was the president and how many Americans actually die from the flu each year?
*Click below to enlarge
Estimated number of deaths due to influenza in the U.S. by season
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Flu Numbers Are Down This Year Due To Higher Vaccination Rates Amid Covid Pandemic
Experts say mask use and social distancing have also helped keep numbers low.
Hospitals across the U.S. are nearing critical capacity due to the rise in COVID-19 cases just as the winter flu season begins to threaten the country. Public officials and doctors worry that the worst is yet to come, but increased rates of flu vaccinations this year may help us avoid a further catastrophic stress on our health care system.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s tracking of flu vaccine distribution over the years shows that so far in the 2020-2021 flu season, 189.4 million flu vaccines have been distributed in the U.S., compared to 174 million in the 2019-2020 season.
This, paired with stay-at-home orders, masking and social distancing, means there are fewer cases of the flu this year than ever before. Doctors are noticing less clinic visits and hospital admissions for the flu and pharmacies are filling fewer prescriptions for the antiviral medications physicians prescribe for influenza. Data analysts at Walgreens have tracked sales of antiviral medications for flu over the past seven years to estimate flu activity across the U.S. and 2020 has had significantly lower sales than in 2019.
What Information Do States Report
The CDC tracks LIL activity levels in each state and presents a weekly flu surveillance report. LIL activity levels are defined as the following:
- Very High
State health departments track flu data provided by hospitals, clinics, clinical laboratories, and healthcare organizations. These reports can include information like the number of flu tests conducted, positivity rates, and the number of flu-like illnesses that providers saw in the patients they treated.
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