No one likes to get a shot, but getting a flu shot this coming influenza season may be more important than ever. This according to a new study in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"We found that influenza was associated with over 200,000 hospitalizations annually. We also found that influenza-associated hospitalizations increased from 1979 through 2001, in large part due to the aging of the population," says Dr. William Thompson with the Center for Disease Control.
The researchers also found that there are more severe strains of flu affecting Americans than in the past. The flu season is also lasting about a month longer than in previous years. Dr. Thompson says judging by the data analyzed from hospital discharge records, those at greatest risk today include people age 50 and older, people with weakened immune systems or certain chronic conditions, and children from six months to five years of age.
The flu season generally begins in fall and ends in late winter. Dr. Thompson says that young children had a high risk of being hospitalized because of the flu but a very low risk of dying from the disease. The elderly also had a high risk for being hospitalized, but they were at greater risk of dying from flu-related causes.
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