Influenza, or “the flu”, is a respiratory virus that can cause fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, and other symptoms. Some patients get serous complications from the flu such as pneumonia or other bacterial infections. Young children, the elderly, and those with other serious medical conditions such as heart or lung problems are at highest risk.
The flu is spread by respiratory droplet (coughing or sneezing). Patients with the flu are contagious for up to 7 days.
On average, 200,000 patients in the United States are hospitalized with the flu per year. The flu kills over 30,000 people a year.
A new flu vaccination is developed every year because the influenza virus can rapidly mutate. The flu shot is 60% effective in preventing the flu. If a patient has the flu shot but still gets the flu, they have a 50% less risk of being hospitalized and reduced risk of death from their illness. It is recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months gets the flu shot.
Every year on average, the flu accounts for $5.8 billion in health care and lost productivity costs, such as reduced wages. Of those costs, 80% are from those who chose to not get vaccinated.