Influenza Kills

The Influenza virus claimed the largest death toll in the past four decades

This past winter, over 80,000 Americans died as a result of influenza, a viral infection that affects the respiratory system and is commonly referred to as the “flu.” About 172 of those who died were young children and teenagers, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the 172 pediatric patients that died, 60 percent died after being admitted to a hospital, while 40 percent died either in their own homes or in an emergency room. 80 percent did not receive a vaccination.

According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, the immune responses from vaccines “decline over time” and anyone, “even young, healthy people,” are at risk from exposure to strains of this virus. “Flu vaccinations save lives. That’s why it’s so important for everyone six months and older to get a flu vaccine every year,” said Surgeon General Jerome Adams in a statement by his office to the media.

On average, the vaccination rate for influenza in the United States is around 47 percent annually, with college students being among the groups with the lowest rate. A survey conducted by NPR found that “among [the college] students who don’t get the vaccine, 36 percent say that they are healthy and don’t need it, and 30 percent say they don’t think the vaccine is effective.”

According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, while “the flu vaccine is made with flu viruses,” these viruses are essentially killed and cannot cause the flu or flu-like symptoms. Once administered, the vaccine can take up to two weeks to work effectively. While there are some side effects, like soreness or swelling, the vaccine cannot cause the flu. The claim that healthy people do not need to be vaccinated is also false, because “anyone can get the flu. Getting vaccinated every year is important, regardless of how healthy a person is. Vaccination can help [to] prevent the spread of the virus to others who may be vulnerable to flu and related complications,” according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

There are several companies in the surrounding area that offer flu vaccinations at low or no costs. Companies like Walmart, Walgreens and CVS offer vaccinations at no costs with most insurances. Companies, like CVS, are also running promotions to encourage people to get vaccinated.

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