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Each year, millions of individuals experience fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fatigue due to the flu. Although these symptoms can be managed for many with rest, hydration, and even antiviral medications, the flu can hit some harder than others. Last flu season alone, the CDC estimated 10,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths were associated with influenza.
While many organizations push for employees to get the flu vaccine by October to curb rates as flu season starts, it is just as important to continually discuss it throughout the flu season to prevent its spread.
Dr. Dan Jernigan, Director of the Influenza Division at the CDC, notes that typically flu seasons peak between December and February, but significant activity can occur as late as May.
The flu was largely dormant during the COVID-19 pandemic when precautions were primarily adopted. Now, many children are experiencing an immunity gap, and Americans are facing a “tripledemic” of flu, RSV, and COVID-19 as we start settling into winter. This may lead to flu spiking sooner and at greater numbers than it usually would.
Encouraging workers and their families who have not yet been vaccinated this flu season to get vaccinated sooner than later is essential, as antibody protection takes about two weeks to kick in after the vaccination. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older as the first measure of defense in protecting against seasonal flu viruses.
While flu vaccines vary in efficacy each year based on dominant strains, many studies show that the flu vaccination reduces flu symptoms, doctor visits, missed work, and school due to the flu and prevents flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Flu vaccination has also been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events, such as heart attacks among people with heart disease, especially those who had a cardiac event in the 12 months before receiving the flu vaccination. The flu vaccine has also been shown to reduce hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease.
A 2021 study showed that vaccinated patients hospitalized with the flu had a 26% lower risk of intensive care unit (ICU) admission and a 31% lower risk of flu-related death compared to unvaccinated patients.
Some people are at high risk of developing severe flu complications that can lead to hospitalization and even death. People at increased risk include pregnant women, children younger than 5, but especially children younger than two years old, people sixty-five and older, and those with certain long-term medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
Artemis Perspectives helps users dive into influenza data to analyze rates of influenza vacations and the cost attributed to influenza episodes last year, along with evaluating higher-risk populations due to age or preexisting conditions.