Each year in the U.S., an estimated 5 percent-20 percent of the population can be infected with the flu, and more than 200,000 people may be hospitalized during the flu season.
The American Heart Association joined the Centers for Disease Control during National Influenza Vaccination Week last week to remind Middle Tennessee that the flu season is unpredictable and a flu vaccine is the most important step in protecting one’s self each season. While the flu can make anyone sick, certain people are at greater risk for serious complications from the flu. It can cause hospitalization or even death. They include:
• adults 65 years of age and older.
• children younger than 5, but especially younger than 2 years old.
• people with chronic lung disease, such as asthma and COPD, diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurologic conditions and certain other long-term medical conditions, even if these are well managed.
• those who are morbidly obese with a body mass index of 40 or greater.
• pregnant women and women within the first two weeks after delivery (two weeks post-partum).
In terms of heart disease, people who received the flu shot are about 36 percent less likely to experience heart disease, stroke, heart failure or death from cardiac-related causes, and about 55 percent less likely to suffer a cardiac event if they had recently experienced a heart attack or stroke. The influenza vaccination is so important it is considered a secondary prevention for cardiovascular disease and is recommended by both the AHA and the American College of Cardiology for all heart disease patients.
Vaccines are available in a variety of locations, including a doctor or local health department, and at many pharmacies. Many employers, schools and retail stores also offer flu vaccines.
Visit the vaccine finder at vaccine.healthmap.org or call 800-232-4636 for more information.