CDC: Flu Vaccine Pays Big Dividends
By Todd Neale, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today // December 14, 2013
FLU SEASON PEEKS JAN.-MAR., GET VACCINATED NOW
EDITOR’S NOTE: I monitor hundreds of health and healthcare related stories over the cyber wires every week and try to select those that provide the most meaningful information that might impact the health and well being of our SpaceCoastDaily.com readers. The article excerpted below from MedPageToday.com spotlights a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on the estimated flu illnesses and hospitalizations averted by the flu vaccine during the 2012-2013 flu season here in the U.S.
Although the controversy of whether to get vaccinated or not still emerges every year, the effectiveness of the vaccine is clearly substantiated by the evidence in the CDC report. We’re well into the 2013-2014 flu season, but flu activity typically peaks anywhere from January to March, and it’s not too late to get vaccinated.
Everyone age 6 months and older should get the flu vaccine, which is available from your primary care physician or multiple pharmacies across the Space Coast. For more information on where to get vaccinated and answers to frequently asked questions about the vaccine, go to Flu.gov.
– Dr. Jim Palermo
MEDPAGETODAY.COM – More than six million cases of the flu were prevented during the last influenza season because of vaccination, according to numbers released by the CDC as the current flu season begins to pick up.
Even though only 45% of the population received flu vaccine and vaccine effectiveness was 51% during the 2012-2013 season, it is estimated that vaccination prevented 6.6 million illnesses, 3.2 million flu cases for which people would have sought medical attention (otherwise known as “medically attended illnesses”), and about 79,000 hospitalizations, a study in the Dec. 13 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report showed.
That works out to a 17.3% relative reduction in overall adverse events compared with what would have been seen in an unvaccinated population.
The reductions are greater than those estimated to have occurred during the six seasons from 2005 to 2011, at least partly because of the increased severity of the season, CDC director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said at a news conference.
But they could have been even higher. If vaccine coverage had reached 70%, an additional 4.4 million illnesses, 1.8 million medically attended illnesses, and 30,000 hospitalizations could have been avoided, estimates showed.
“Flu vaccine in a vial doesn’t do anyone any good. The more people vaccinated, the more benefit to individuals, the fewer the hospitalizations, the fewer the illnesses and deaths,” Frieden said.
“Vaccination ideally should occur before flu is circulating widely, but as long as flu is still spreading it’s not too late to get vaccinated,” he said.
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