CDC: 80,000 Americans Died Of Flu, Its Complications Last Winter

CDC: 80,000 Americans Died Of Flu, Its Complications Last Winter

The start of influenza season is around the corner.

Measures introduced by the Health Department a year ago - which included offering the flu jab in pharmacies and rolling out the nasal vaccine to all primary school children - helped cut the number of reported flu cases by half, and Dr Diggle said she hoped the latest moves would build on that success.

"We can see influenza all year round -- 12 months out of the year", Dr. Jennifer Ashton said on "Good Morning America".

Following the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC began using a new methodology for ranking severity of flu seasons.

CBS 2 asked Dr. Matthew Kipppenhan, the Central Region Medical Director for Northwestern Medicine Immediate Care Centers in Chicago, about why last year's flu was so deadly and how to prevent getting sick this year. The agency recommends that everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated for influenza every season, ideally by the end of October. "However, even if we don't know what strain, with you having some immunities, if you do get the flu, hopefully you won't get as sick, if you did not get the flu shot", said Julie Huntley, Arkansas Department of Health Patient Care Manager. In the past, the virus has hung around as late as May.

How well the vaccines protect people depends on how closely they match the viruses that are ultimately in circulation.

Since the flu virus changes year to year, the vaccine changes, as well.

The flu vaccine may take up to two weeks to become effective, so getting it earlier in the season is ideal, OHA disease and vaccine experts say.

Although the vaccine can be imperfect, it is the best defense we have as we continue to make advancements in the field.

"That waning of immunity has not been substantial enough to recommend a delay in the kickoff for getting vaccines", he said.

"There's a little bit of controversy now in the medical literature", Ashton said.

Overall, the United States experienced one of the most severe flu seasons in recent decades. The vaccine has been updated to reflect circulating strains that are prevalent in the southern hemisphere at this time during this hemisphere's winter season.

Useful protection for the year has been shown in healthy adults in the 18 to 49 age range.

CDC officials do not have exact counts of how many people die from flu each year.

This is why most health officials will agree that receiving a flu shot, even if its early, is much better than no flu shot at all.

For other groups-including very young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions-the flu can cause very serious illness and can even be life-threatening.