We're told that each year somewhere around 36,000 people in America die from the flu.
I get my vaccination each year. It seems to make sense. And it's been years since I've had flu.
However, I know many people are “afraid” to take it for various reasons.
How about you? Do you get the vaccination? Why or why not? Is there a big push where you live to get vaccinated?
Here are a few facts:
The flu shot is continually updated, because influenza is a rare type of virus that is constantly changing. There are three types of the flu — Influenza A, B and C — each one with its own viral strain that replicates and changes independently from the other types.
Seasonal strains of human influenza change constantly, which is why people can catch the flu multiple times.
But there many other subtypes of influenza to which humans are immune. They reside mostly in birds, although every once in a while a strain will suddenly develop the ability to infect people. "A virus like that gives people no time to develop protection or immunity, so almost everyone is susceptible," says Dr. Carolyn Bridges, an influenza expert at the CDC. "When that happens, we have a pandemic."
The following is from Time magazine:
“Influenza is a disease of modernity: the faster people travel around the world, the easier it is for the virus to spread. There was no evidence of influenza among Native Americans until after Europeans visited North America. Pandemic outbreaks occur about once every hundred years, although it's hard track outbreaks that occurred before the 18th century due to incomplete medical records.
“The disease hits big cities first — because that's where people generally travel — and then spreads to surrounding areas. The last major pandemic occurred in 1918 when an Influenza A strain jumped from birds to humans and killed an estimated 20-40 million people (3% of the world's population).
The pandemic struck during World War I and warring nations worried that the enemy might use the virus to its advantage, so most news reports of the outbreak were censored. Spain remained neutral during the war, and its accounts of the virus's horrific symptoms caused the illness to be nicknamed the "Spanish flu," even though scientists now believe it originated in the United States.
"This wasn't like normal flu," says Frank Snowden, Yale University's chair of the history of science and medicine department. "Physicians were horrified by what they saw. People's lungs filled with this terrible frothy fluid. They were literally choking to death. It was ghastly." Symptoms appeared so suddenly that victims sometimes died within just one day. The flu hit World War I soldiers especially hard; some historians believe more soldiers died from the flu than from the war.
The influenza virus was discovered in the early 1930s, and scientists developed a working vaccine by the 1940s, when it was first used on soldiers during World War II.
In 1976, an errant outbreak of swine flu at Fort Dix, New Jersey, caused scientists to worry about a possible pandemic, so President Gerald Ford announced that the federal government would vaccinate the entire U.S. population. Unfortunately, several hundred people developed Guillain-Barré syndrome, an illness characterized by nerve damage and paralysis, after receiving the vaccination. The Ford family tried to alleviate fears by televising their flu shots, and in the end 40 million Americans were vaccinated for a strand of influenza that only had a handful of documented cases of human infection.