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Behind the numbers: The flu NEXT ARTICLE 

Behind the Numbers

Behind the numbers: The flu 


By Lucy Maher


Each year, scores of Americans deal with the flu, and suffer through fever, cough, sore throat, aches, pains, and fatigue as a result. But there’s more to know about influenza, a virus that spreads through the upper and lower respiratory tracts, besides the usual side effects.


How many people get the flu each year?

While tough to gauge, since not everyone who gets the flu each year sees their doctor, it is estimated that between 9.3 and 49 million flu cases arise each year.


When is peak flu season in the U.S?

December to February. 


What’s the cost of getting the flu?

Besides feeling crummy for days on end, there are other downsides to having the flu. They include:


  • School Attendance. In most cases, students and staff miss three to five days when suffering from the flu.

  • Work Absenteeism. Seventy million work days are lost each year due to the flu.

  • Medical Visits. Flu-related patient care equals about $10.4 billion a year. 


How many people are hospitalized because of the flu?

On average, 200,000 a year, with 3,000 to 49,000 people dying from the virus each year.


How long does the flu last?

In general, you can expect...

  • Symptoms to appear one to four days after exposure.

  • Symptoms to last five to seven days.


Who gets the flu shot?

The flu vaccine, also called the “flu shot,” causes antibodies that protect against viruses in the vaccine to develop about two weeks after vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control recommends those six months and older get the vaccine each year.


Not everyone does, though. 


50.4 percent of those aged six months to 17 years comply while only 34.2 percent of those age 18 to 49 do. That number jumps to 46.8 percent of those aged 50 to 64. The most compliant group? Anyone aged 65 and older; 68.7 percent of them get vaccinated each year.

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