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Flu Statistics & Facts in 2020/21

Influenza, also called the flu, is one of the most contagious and infectious diseases that affect a large number of Americans every year. An influenza epidemic can potentially disrupt society and cause high levels of absenteeism and productivity losses. 

Today, when the healthcare system is overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic, getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever. 

General Statistics about the Flu

  • During the 2019-2020 flu season, the flu caused 38 million flu-related illnesses, 400,000 flu hospitalizations, and 22,000 deaths (CDC 
  • According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that one billion flu cases and 290,000 – 650,000 deaths occur every year due to seasonal influenza (WHO 
  • Since 2010, the flu has resulted in between 9.3 million to 49 million illnesses each year in the U.S. (Health
  • From 3% to 11% of the population in the U.S. contracts influenza A or influenza B every year (HelpAdvisor)   

Impact of Vaccinations 

  • Influenza vaccines prevented an estimated 7.52 million illnesses, 105,000 hospitalizations, and 6,300 deaths in America during the 2019-2020 season (CDC 
  • In the last 10 years, the flu vaccine has prevented 60,000 deaths (CDC)   
  • The National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) raises awareness to the importance of influenza vaccination is from December 6-12 every year (CDC 
  • According to CDC, September and October are ideal months to get the flu shot (CDC 
  • Between 194 to 198 million doses of vaccines have been prepared for the 2020-21 season (CDC)

General Information about the Flu

  • Common influenza symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, fatigue, headache, and sore throat (CDC)  
  • The flu can cause flu-related complications for certain high-risk groups, such as:  
  1. People who are 65 years and older  
  2. Pregnant women  
  3. Young children, especially under 2 years old  
  4. People of racial and ethnic minority groups  
  5. People who are extremely obese, body mass index >40 (BMI)  
  6. People with chronic conditions  
  7. People who are immunocompromised  
  8. Health care workers (CDC 
  • Flu season begins in October, peaks between December and February, and it can last as late as May (CDC 
  • The incubation period, which is the time from a flu infection to a flu illness, is about two days but ranges from one to four days (WHO 
  • Although there are four types of influenzas, the seasonal flu epidemics are caused by influenzas type A and influenzas type B (WHO 
  • Influenzas type C are typically very mild infections, and influenzas type D only affect cattle (Insider 

Flu shot, Prevention & Antiviral Drugs

  • Although antiviral drugs are not a replacement for the vaccine, they can treat flu illnesses (CDC 
  • Antiviral drugs can lessen fever and flu symptoms and shorten the time people are sick by one day (CDC 
  • Flu shots are made from inactivated or killed viruses; therefore, they cannot cause flu illness (CDC 
  • The flu germs can survive on hard surfaces like doorknobs and subway poles for up to 3 days (Insider 
  • Although the flu vaccination reduces the risk of infection by 40-60%, it is still possible to get the flu after getting a vaccine (CDC 

Economic Burden

  • The flu costs the U.S. approximately $10,4 billion in direct costs from hospitalizations and outpatient visits (CDC 
  • About 60% of employers provided onsite seasonal flu vaccination in the year 2019 (Statista 
  • The flu causes U.S. employees to miss about 17 million workdays (Meainfo 
  • The flu ends up costing an estimated $7 billion a year in absences due to sick days and lost productivity (Meainfo 
  • The average wages lost due to missing work rounded up to four days or approximately $855.68 per worker (ChallengerGray 
  • In 2019-2020 an estimated 14 million workers got sick with the flu, which amounted to about $13 billion in productivity losses (ChallengerGray 

Workplace Flu
Vaccine Providers

Tragic Flu Statistics

  • Flu and pneumonia rank among the top 10 leading causes of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives since they are at a higher risk of developing serious complications (CDC)   
  • Influenza was the ninth leading cause of death in the year 2019 (Statista 
  • Nearly two-thirds of adults said they were feeling very concerned or somewhat concerned about influenza in the year 2020 (Statista 
  • Flu season 2018-19 was one of the deadliest, with more than 900,000 hospitalizations and 80,000 deaths (CDC 

COVID-19 vs. the Influenza

  • Flu cases this year are uncharacteristically low, which could be attributed to coronavirus movement restriction orders, as well as better personal hygiene (CDC 
  • Mortality due to the coronavirus (3-4%) is much higher than the flu (below 0.1%) (WHO 
  • There were about 600 deaths from influenza in the 2020-21 season, remarkably lower compared to the 22,000 flu deaths the year before, and the 36,000 flu deaths two seasons ago (Scientific American  
  • Coronavirus and seasonal influenza share some symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, tiredness, and others (Mayo Clinic 

Spread of the Influenza

  • People with the flu are the most contagious in the first 3-4 days of their illness (CDC 
  • You can pass the flu to someone even before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick (CDC 
  • Cold air makes it easier for airborne viruses like the flu to spread faster, hence why the flu season in the Northern Hemisphere is during winter (Insider 
  • The flu vaccine administered on healthy people usually takes two weeks to build up enough antibodies for protection, which means there is still a chance of getting the flu within those two weeks (Insider 
  • Since the flu spreads by droplets when people talk, cough or sneeze, it can be spread to others up to six feet away (CDC 
  • The World Health Organization tracks influenza cases and transmissions in 18 different zones worldwide (Scientific American  

Recovery

  • For healthy people, the recovery from a flu illness typically lasts from one to two weeks (Insider 
  • An ill person is considered non-contagious once their temperature has returned to normal and they are fever-free for at least 24 hours (Insider 
  • The most common advice for treating flu is to drink lots of fluids, get enough sleep and take drugs to reduce any symptoms (Health Hive 
  • Best foods for recovery are broths, soups, yogurts, fruits high in vitamin C, and leafy greens (Insider 

The seasonal flu is a global health threat that can be tackled swiftly and effectively by vaccinating most of the population against influenza, especially those high-risk groups of people.   

Vaccinations help build herd immunity, slow the flu, and protect vulnerable groups.