Flu Responsible for 80,000 Deaths in 2017
As winter approaches, flu season is once again upon us. Statistics are now available showing just how devastating the flu was last year, resulting in the highest death toll in 40 years. Nearly 80,000 Americans died due to flu-related complications last winter, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Fatal complications from the flu can include pneumonia, stroke, and heart attack.
This number has skyrocketed when compared to previous years where flu shots were available. Records show that the flu typically kills about 12,000 Americans during a mild year. In more severe years, the flu has caused upwards of 56,000 deaths – a staggering number nonetheless. 2017 shows an exorbitantly higher number, begging to question just how effective the flu shot was last year.
Last year’s vaccine was found to be slightly lower in effectiveness for combating the flu, coming in at 39%, nearing the average low of 40%. The CDC ranked last year’s flu season as “high severity” basing its numbers off the number of emergency room and outpatient visits. Disconcertingly, the 2017 flu season is the only one to ever be labeled as high severity.
As this year’s flu season looms, vaccine manufacturers have expected to produce somewhere between 163 – 168 million doses for the U.S. market. The CDC recommends that every adult and child over the age of six months get at least one annual flu shot by the end of October, to be ready for the next wave of influenza. Peak flu season typically occurs in November through March, but the influenza virus can always be contracted at any time throughout the year.
Despite a tough flu season last year, CDC experts are confident that this year will be much lighter. CDC flu expert Dr. Daniel Jernigan told the Chicago Tribune, “We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re seeing more encouraging signs than we were early last year.”