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25 Flu Facts to Help Prepare for this Season

  • 25 Flu Facts to Help Prepare for this Season

    For just about everyone, the flu conjures up unpleasant memories of days spent lying in bed, suffering from fever, fatigue, and congestion. Influenza isn’t just unpleasant—it’s one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and costs nearly a trillion dollars a year in medical costs and lost earnings. With flu season right around the corner, Stacker compiled 25 essential flu facts from a range of authoritative healthcare sources to help make sure you’re prepared.

    The flu can take a number of forms, from the deadly 1918 Spanish flu to the more recent 2009 swine flu outbreak. The two main types of influenza that cause seasonal epidemics are influenza A and B, and because the flu virus can evolve so rapidly, the World Health Organization closely monitors influenza in over 100 countries to predict which virus will dominate the upcoming flu season.

    While the flu vaccine is the best method for preventing the flu, recent medical studies have uncovered a number of remedies that can help shorten the length of the illness and relieve symptoms if you do catch a virus. These flu facts come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and peer-reviewed medical studies on influenza.

  • #25. Between 5% and 20% of People Catch Influenza Each Year

    On average, between 5% and 20% of the U.S. population catches the flu every year, and 200,000 Americans are hospitalized because of influenza. In some years, like the 2009 outbreak of swine flu shown in the above map, this can mean over 60 million cases of flu in a single season.

  • #24. Influenza Was One of the Top Ten Causes of Death in 2015

    In 2015, 2.1% of all deaths in the United States were caused by influenza and pneumonia. This places influenza among the ten leading causes of death in the country.

  • #23. Influenza Costs the U.S. Nearly a Trillion Dollars a Year

    A 2007 study in the journal Vaccine estimated that the U.S. loses $87.1 billion each year due to the flu. This includes direct medical costs of $10.4 billion annually and another $16.3 billion in lost earnings due to illness and death.

  • #22. Between 12,000 and 56,000 People Die Each Year From Influenza

    The CDC estimates that since 2010, between 12,000 and 56,000 people die each year from the flu virus. To estimate flu deaths, the CDC used death certificate data for people whose cause of death was respiratory or circulatory.

  • #21. The 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic Killed More People than World War I

    History’s deadliest flu epidemic struck in 1918, infecting one in five people around the world. The influenza epidemic killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide—more than three times the number of people who died during World War I.

  • #20. The Flu Vaccine Is Your Best Protection Against The Flu

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year. This is particularly true for high-risk groups, including children, the elderly, pregnant women, and individuals with certain medical conditions.

  • #19. In the 2015-2016 Flu Season, the Flu Vaccine Prevented 5 Million Cases of Influenza

    CDC analysis of the 2015-2016 flu season, based on vaccine coverage, effectiveness, and influenza hospitalization rates, concluded that approximately 5.1 million cases of influenza were prevented by the vaccine. Furthermore, the vaccine prevented 2.5 million medical visits and 71,000 hospitalizations.

  • #18. The World Health Organization Designs A New Flu Vaccine Every Year

    Every year, the World Health Organization coordinates an international effort to design a new flu vaccine. The Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS) collects data from over 100 countries on influenza, and five laboratories, located in the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and China, predict and design a flu vaccine.

  • #17. The Vaccines Effectiveness May Vary, But It Still Provides Protection

    Because the flu virus is constantly evolving, and multiple viruses often circulate in a single flu season, the vaccine’s effectiveness can vary. The World Health Organization has to predict what viruses to include in the vaccine each year. However, the CDC emphasizes that a less than optimal match can still protect against related viruses, especially for those at the greatest risk of flu complications.

  • #16. The CDC Recommends Receiving The Flu Vaccine By The End Of October

    It takes approximately two weeks for the flu vaccine to provide immunity, so the CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months of age receives a flu vaccine by the end of October—before the height of flu season.

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