With the flu accounting for around 35,000 deaths a year and causing another 200,000 individuals to be hospitalized a year (according to Norbert Herzog from the Frank H. Netter School of Medicine at QuinnipiacUniversity), medical professionals are still perplexed as to why so many people aren’t getting their flu shots.
A very contagious virus that commonly causes a number of different health complications, which can be very severe and in some cases even deadly, the flu can affect people of all ages, races, and classes; the flu doesn’t discriminate, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over 6 months of age gets a flu shot each year. Contrary to these recommendations, this year’s vaccination rates indicate that 60% of the population hasn’t gotten their flu shots yet this year.
The flu strains change from year to year, and they tend to vary in severity from year to year. This year’s flu strains tend to be causing the greatest hardships for the younger and generally healthy people, with the average age of hospitalized patients being only 29 years old. A study conducted by researchers from the DukeUniversityMedicalCenter and published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care
explained that “virtually all of the people with influenza who ended up in intensive care earlier this flu season had chosen not to get the annual flu vaccine.”
Another significant finding from this study revealed that about 1/3 of the individuals who were hospitalized and received ICU care for the flu had recently tested negative for the virus, indicating that healthcare providers should not be solely relying on the results of flu tests when deciding weather or not to be prescribing anti-viral medications for their patients.
The best way to protect yourself and those around you from the flu is to get your flu shot. Researchers and healthcare providers everywhere have been reiterating that it is never too late to get your flu shot, explaining that the flu spreads
the most rapidly when it’s cold outside (and it has definitely been cold lately!). In addition to getting the flu shot, other preventative measure that can be taken include staying home when you’re sick, practicing proper hand hygiene, and keeping your hands away from the eyes, nose, and mouth.