For many people, flu season is little more than annoyance, but every single year thousands of people die from whatever strain of the disease is making the rounds. Sometimes the number is relatively small, with only around 12,000 to 15,000 deaths, while other years see 40,000 or 50,000 deaths, many of whom are either small children or elderly. 2018 was different.
The flu season which peaked in around the start of February of this year took approximately 80,000 lives. This figure, as reported by the Associated Press, comes from Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it’s the latest overall estimate that really puts the most recent flu epidemic in proportion.
The CDC regularly reminds everyone to get their flu shots and to get them early, but many people choose not to or simply decide they don’t have the time. The revelation that a whopping 80,000 people died from the disease this past year alone was a punctuation on a plea by Redfield to schedule flu vaccinations as soon as possible.
“I’d like to see more people get vaccinated,” Redfield reportedly told journalists. “We lost 80,000 people last year to the flu.”
It’s important to note that tracking cases of the flu and even deaths as a result of the disease is a very tricky thing. Doctors can report statistics and offer a broad glimpse at how bad the flu season is — and last year those warnings came swift, with cases piling up rapidly — but it’s hard to nail down an exact number.
As Huffpost points out, the CDC actually uses statistical models based on the information available to estimate the number of cases of the flu and the deaths that result from it. Death reports don’t always cite the flu as the cause, complicating the cataloging process, and many flu cases simply go entirely unreported.
The CDC has been doing everything in its power to ensure we don’t have a repeat of the previous flu season, and recently issued a bulletin emphasizing the importance of being vaccinated.