The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently released the influenza data for the 2017-2018 flu season. There were an estimated 80,000 deaths in the U.S. attributed to influenza or associated complications within the last year. The most recent CDC report indicates that 183 children succumbed to influenza. There are many factors that contribute to how sick an individual will become if he or she gets the flu. We know that early childhood, older age and pregnancy are risk factors for severe influenza. We also know that certain medical conditions – such as diabetes, extreme obesity, asthma, heart disease or illnesses that suppress the immune system (like HIV, cancer or chronic steroid use) – increase a person’s risk of severe illness with the flu. However, it’s also true that healthy people can have an overwhelming response to influenza infection and can become critically ill and even die from influenza. As health care providers, we have no way of knowing who will have this kind of a response, so we offer the best prevention we can through vaccination.
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