National Influenza Vaccination Week is upon us (December 8-14), which is an appropriate time to unveil some interesting facts on influenza and flu vaccine.
Below are 10 things you probably don’t know about influenza.
- Influenza is an Italian word that means to “influence.” Hundreds of years ago the only thing known about influenza was it was everywhere in the winter. The theory was the whole planet was influenced by the heavenly bodies, so logically, that must be the reason for influenza.
- Pigs are the only animal that can be infected by all three classes of influenza – pigs, birds and humans. Think of a pig as a melting pot of flu viruses. Who knows what gets cooked up, because pigs are the perfect breeding ground for new and dangerous strains of influenza. I’ve come to the conclusion that pig farmers are underpaid.
- The Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 was the most lethal infection in recorded history – 50-100 million people died. More Americans died of Spanish flu in one year than all the combined American soldiers who died from World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War.
- Getting a flu shot will save you $46 on healthcare costs on average over the winter.
- Flu shots are one of the most understood vaccines on the planet. Every year we design and make a new vaccine in just a few months.
- Getting a flu shot decreases your chance of a heart attack by 50% for the next year. This is being studied intensely in the hope of developing a vaccine against heart disease.
- Influenza is approximately 1.5 million times more dangerous to the average American than lightning.
- Your chance of having a serious reaction if you get the flu is thousands of times higher than your chance of having a serious reaction to the vaccine.
- The loss of productivity in America during one flu season is in the tens of billions of dollars.
- The vaccine is designed to make you very immune to the flu for months, but evidence of immunity lasts for many years (40-plus).
One fact that you should also know this time of year: If you haven’t gotten your annual flu shot yet, get one immediately.
Donald Bucklin, MD (Dr. B) is a Regional Medical Director for U.S. HealthWorks and has been practicing clinical occupational medicine for more than 25 years. Dr. B. works in our Scottsdale, Arizona clinic.
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