CDC: Last Flu Season Was The Deadliest In Four Decades

CDC: Last Flu Season Was The Deadliest In Four Decades

Measures introduced by the Health Department past year - which included offering the flu jab in pharmacies and rolling out the nasal vaccine to all primary school children - helped cut the number of reported flu cases by half, and Dr Diggle said she hoped the latest moves would build on that success.

80,000 People Died of Flu Last Winter in U.S. That's the highest flu-related death toll in the USA four decades, according to the Associated Press.

CDC officials don't have an exact measure of the amount of flu-related deaths per year.

The overall effectiveness of last season's vaccine was estimated at 40 percent, according to the CDC.

"Don't wait until everybody is sick to get your flu shot", she said.

Last year's season started about a month earlier than usual, gained in November, peaked in February and hung on into March. Since the flu season traditionally starts in October, doctors recommend people get their shot before the end of that month. That strain tended to send people to the hospital and result in fatalities, particularly among those who are vulnerable, such as young children and the elderly.

It's especially important for people 65 and older (50 and older is recommended by the CDC) to get the flu shot, since their ability to fight the virus is lower. The nasal spray flu vaccine option is also suggested this flu season.

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It eclipses the estimates for every flu season going back to the winter of 1976-1977.

The 1918 flu pandemic, which lasted almost two years, killed more than 500,000 Americans, historians estimate. Dr. Sarah McIntire said more patients have had more questions earlier than usual this year.

"Last year's season, it was a nasty season and it went on for a long time", said Dr. Tom Safranek, Nebraska's state epidemiologist.

This year's trivalent vaccines will protect against the A/Michigan strain, an H1N1-like virus; A/Singapore, an H3N2-like virus; and B/Colorado (Victoria lineage), while the quadrivalent vaccine will also protect against the B/Phuket strain (Yamagata lineage).

"There's a new flu vaccine out now; it's made based on predictions of what this year's strains will be", Ashton said, "so you do need to get it this fall".

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education.

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