The end of summer marks the need to prepare for flu season. The CDC reported that the 2017-2018 flu season was the worst in years, with this being the first season to severely impact every age group. During the 2017-2018 flu season, the number of cases began to increase in November, with the peak number occurring January through February, staying elevated into March. This marked not only a very severe season, but also an unusually prolonged season.
A total of 180 pediatric deaths were attributed to complications from influenza during the 2017-2018 season, with 80% of these patients not having received the vaccination. Data from adult deaths due to influenza complications is not readily available as this data is not required to be reported to the CDC. Data regarding total number of adult hospitalizations from the 2017-2018 flu season is also currently unavailable.
The CDC guidelines recommend that individuals > 6 months of age undergo annual vaccination according to outlined protocols, unless they have a contraindication. Vaccinations should be administered by the end of October and continue to be offered until the end of the flu season. The vaccine is administered intramuscularly or intradermally, depending on the type of vaccine. The live, attenuated, intranasally administered vaccine (LAIV) has been shown to be less effective against H1N1 since the 2014-2015 flu season. Patients should discuss concerns about potential complications or side effects with their health care provider. The overall predicted accuracy of flu vaccinations is 70%, highlighting the importance of receiving the vaccination.
Read more about Influenza Vaccination:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Summary of the 2017-2018 Influenza Season
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices—United States, 2018–19 Influenza Season
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20e: Influenza