According to the CDC, 105 kids have died from the flu this season, and six of them were reported last week. The flu spiked in December, which is earlier than usual, and it resulted in many school closings around the country. In some areas, it was not unusual to see all but a couple of students per class were absent. Experts reported that the virus would spread rapidly and be very severe this year, and the numbers suggest that they were right.
This flu season also took its toll on the elderly, but for healthy adults, it was only moderately severe.
On average, about 100 children die each year from the flu, with the exception of the swine flu pandemic of 2009 and ’10, which caused 348 pediatric deaths. The flu vaccine has proven effective for most of the children who get it, and often reduces the severity of the illness in those that wind up becoming ill with flu like symptoms.
It is strongly recommended that all children who are age six months and above have a flu shot each year, but only about half of children this age actually do get one. In the case of the children who died, the CDC cays that “90 percent of them did not get vaccinated.” It is thought that part of the reason children were not vaccinated was due to new, “natural” ways of thinking and dealing with health matters, and experts feel that in this case, it can cause more harm than good.
The CDC reports that people have been getting the flu vaccine for 50 years, and that the safety rate is very high. In that time, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people have safely had the vaccine, and that it has been effective at preventing most of the recipients from getting the seasonal flu. In most cases, the side effects of flu vaccines are mild, and according to the CDC website, both the CDC and FDA closely monitor potential side effects to everyone who gets a vaccine.
The dominant strain of flu for this year was one that caused severe illness, and while it was quite effective for children, it proved not to work as well for the elderly. The statistics for those 65 and older who were hospitalized with the flu don’t look very good, either. The hospitalization rate for people 65 and older with flu-related symptoms was 2.5 percent higher than it has been in past years.
For many who did not get a flu shot this year, but found themselves ill, it is likely that they will be getting one before the season hits full swing next year. The severity of flu season from year to year often depends on many factors, including weather conditions, how much traveling the general population does and the severity of the most common flu viruses out there at the time of the outbreak.