This is Part II of our 2 Part Series on Influenza (or what is commonly referred to as “the Flu”). In Part I, we discussed what exactly the flu is, signs and symptoms and how it spreads. In Part II, we explore the seriousness of the virus and prevention methods.
How Serious is the Flu?
The flu is unpredictable. How severe it is can vary widely from one season to the next depending on many things, including:
- What flu viruses are spreading;
- How much flu vaccine is available;
- How many people get vaccinated;
- When vaccine is available; and
- How well the flu vaccine is matched to the flu viruses that are causing illness.
Certain people are at greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu, including older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease).
Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. You may recall that last year’s vaccine was less effective than some previous years, because the strains included in the vaccine did not match the viruses which actually appeared.
Trivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses (an H1N1 and an H3N2) and an influenza B virus. In a recent season, an estimated 45 percent of the U.S. population got vaccinated, helping to prevent an estimated 6.6 million flu-related illnesses, 3.2 million flu-related medical visits and 79,000 hospitalizations. This can have obvious impact in your workplace. A vaccinated employee is less likely to get the flu, miss work and subsequently be less likely to pass it onto others. When it comes to getting the flu vaccine….in the end, we all win.