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For millions of people every season, the flu means a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed. Millions of people get sick, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu each year. Although the flu vaccine won’t prevent every case of the flu, getting an annual vaccination is the best way to reduce your risk of serious illness.  When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through the community.

CDC estimates that the flu has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010.

Flu Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths since 2010

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The flu can be a serious, even life-threatening illness. For people at high risk, getting the flu can be more serious than for other people and can cause complications that is more likely to lead to hospitalization or death.

People with Asthma: Because people with asthma have swollen and sensitive airways, flu can cause further inflammation of the airways and lungs.  If a person with asthma gets flu infection in the lungs, it can trigger asthma attacks and a worsening of asthma symptoms.  Flu can also lead to other serious infections, like pneumonia.  Asthma is the most common medical condition among children hospitalized with the flu and one of the more common medical conditions among hospitalized adults. An annual flu vaccine is the best way to lower your risk.

People with Diabetes: The flu can make chronic health problems, like diabetes, worse.  Diabetes, even when well-managed can make your immune system less able to fight infections.  If a person with diabetes is sick with flu, it can make managing blood sugar levels even more difficult to control.  An annual flu vaccine is the best way to lower your risk.

People with Heart Disease: In recent years, heart disease was among the most commonly-occurring chronic conditions reported among adults hospitalized with the flu.  Forty-one percent of adults hospitalized with the flu during the 2015-2016 flu season had heart disease. Studies have shown that flu infection is associated with an increase of heart attacks and stroke. An annual flu vaccine is the best way to lower your risk.

For Every Massachusetts Resident: Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each season. Flu activity in New England usually peaks between January and February, though activity can last as late as May. As long as flu activity is ongoing, it’s not too late to get vaccinated, even in January or later. You can get a flu vaccine from your primary care provider, your local pharmacy or if you prefer, you can find a location using this link https://vaccinefinder.org/.  Protect yourself, your loved ones, as well as all those around you by getting a flu vaccine!

 

Written By:


Immunization Outreach Coordinator in the Bureau of Infectious Disease

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