Flu Season Is Off To A Slow Start: CDC

As seen in the Consultant Connection November 2015 Issue
The weather outside might be fearful, but the flu season is thankfully tame so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recently, via its weekly FluView report, the CDC announced that the “overall seasonal influenza activity is low across the United States.”
In the week of October 17, only 1.4 percent of outpatient visits observed through the CDC’s Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILInet) could be chalked up to influenza-like illness. While that’s a slight rise from the 1.2 percent seen the previous week, it’s still a far cry from the national baseline of 2.1 percent traditionally expected. Additionally, as of October 17, there have been no cases of pediatric deaths attributable to flu this season so far.
Ordinarily, flu season in the United States typically begins in October, peaks from December to February, and runs out of steam by May. As the CDC notes, though, that timing can vary dramatically from year to year, so even an early indication of calm may not predict its eventual toll on human health.
Flu is also still more than capable of taking lives in the lull of a flu season. During the week of October 11, 5.7% of all deaths reported through the 122 Cities Mortality Reporting System were directly linked to pneumonia and influenza, though that’s still below the epidemic threshold of 6 percent.
For these reasons, the CDC and other health organizations advise that anyone over the age of 6 months receive an annual flu shot as early as in the season as possible. Though they can’t offer complete protection from influenza, they’re still more than worth the trouble, especially for those with weaker immune systems such as the very young and the elderly.
While those populations have to worry the most about the deadlier effects of flu, flu is a burden that everyone takes on. A 2007 study in Vaccine found that annual flu outbreaks cost us more than $10 billion in direct medical costs and close to $90 billion when you also account for the loss of life and missed job earnings.
In other words, get your flu shot. You’ll be doing everyone, including yourself, a big favor. 

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