Officials push flu vaccine after most deadly season in four decades

After about 80,000 flu deaths in the USA last season Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged Americans to get vaccinated this year

Private manufacturers, which produce the vaccine, have projected needing between 163 million and 168 million doses of injectable vaccine for the USA market for the 2018-2019 flu season.

Vaccination doesn't guarantee a person will avoid contracting the flu, but research shows that people who are vaccinated are less likely to experience severe complications.

In Riverside County, flu cases were significantly higher than the previous year - with 23 related deaths last year compared to two the previous year.

Last fall and winter, the USA went through one of the most severe flu seasons in recent memory.

"Most parents are taking up the offer of a flu vaccine for their children, but we can do better".

The season peaked in early February and it was mostly over by the end of March. People can get vaccines at doctors' offices, chain pharmacies, community health centers, employer vaccine drives and elsewhere. When people who are already frail they may never return to their pre-flu functional level.

Healthy people who get vaccinated are performing a public service to protect the most vulnerable, said U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, MD. During most influenza seasons, about 80 percent of reported pediatric deaths occur in children who have not been fully vaccinated against flu.

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The CDC uses mathematical modeling to estimate total flu-related deaths. Flu's impact on the body goes well beyond the acute respiratory infection, and a flu shot can prevent or reduce the severity of numerous complications.

CDC officials called the 80,000 figure preliminary, and it may be slightly revised. Good Shepherd administers the vaccine to emergency room patients during flu season.

This is perhaps not the most encouraging news as the seasons begin to change and we head into another flu seasons. Comparatively, the next-highest recent season, the 2014-2015 flu season, had 2,575 cases recorded in Greene County.

The CDC estimates 80,000 people died of the flu and its complications last season. "H3N2 is a bad virus", Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan, director of the influenza division of the CDC, told the New York Times.

Health officials note that the numbers underscore how severe the flu can be and that vaccination is the best tool available to fight it.

And how bad is it going to be? This year's vaccine is expected to provide improved protection against the predominant flu strains in circulation.

Despite the awful season last year, overall vaccination coverage remained flat; as in previous years, less than half of the USA population was vaccinated.

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