The Human and Financial Effects of the Seasonal Flu Epidemic

You woke up with severe body aches, fever, cough, and a sweat-soaked bed, becoming part of the 5-20 percent of Americans suffering from seasonal flu; and this year’s flu is taking a heavy human and economic toll.

Seasonal flu for 2017-2018 is the most severe since the 2009 swine flu epidemic, health officials say.

The seasonal flu’s impact varies by individual. The best defense is vaccination. Although this season’s influenza vaccine is estimated to be 30 percent effective due to the virus changing and various strains, medical professionals recommend that everyone ages six months and over should get the flu shot, noting that some defense is better than none.

Flu season varies in intensity and duration every year, but the human and economic toll remains constant and costly, including loss of wages, productivity, and life. Since 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that influenza results in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations, and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually. The CDC estimates an average of 31.4 million out-patient visits, 200,000 hospital visits, $10.4 billion in medical costs, and $16.3 billion in lost earnings due to illness and loss of life every year.