Flu is bad. The flu vaccine works.

I’m just going to keep on beating this drum. First the bad news:

This year’s illnesses have been caused predominantly by theH1N1 virus — the same “swine flu” strain that caused the pandemic in 2009.

Although officials say the prevalence of flu-related illness this season appears to be lower than in 2009, preliminary reporting suggests that it has killed or hospitalized more young and middle-aged adults than usual — particularly those with existing health problems.

In studies released Thursday, CDC epidemiologists said that based on a national sampling of 122 U.S cities, 61% of all flu-related hospitalizations involved adults between the ages of 18 and 64. In the past several years, this rate has been much lower — between 35% to 43%.

And, in a report that focused only on California, the state’s department of public health reported that 405 people younger than age 65 had either died or been admitted to an intensive care unit due to the flu between Sept. 29 and Jan. 18. This was more than any full season since the pandemic.

Now some vaccine data. From MMWR:

In the United States, annual vaccination against seasonal influenza is recommended for all persons aged ≥6 months. Each season since 2004–05, CDC has estimated the effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccine to prevent influenza-associated, medically attended acute respiratory illness (ARI). This report uses data from 2,319 children and adults enrolled in the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness (Flu VE) Network during December 2, 2013–January 23, 2014, to estimate an interim adjusted effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccine for preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infection associated with medically attended ARI.

And the findings?

Interim results for the 2013–14 season indicate that vaccination has reduced the risk for influenza-associated medical visits by approximately 60%, demonstrating the benefits of influenza vaccination during the current season. Influenza activity is likely to continue for several more weeks in the United States. Vaccination efforts should continue as long as influenza viruses are circulating. Persons aged ≥6 months who have not yet received the 2013–14 influenza vaccine should be vaccinated.

And, as a Twitter follower pointed out to me, people who don’t get vaccinated seem more likely to wind up in the Intensive Care Unit. Here’s a meta-analysis pointed out to me by Bradley Flansbaum that brings it all home.

Why are people fighting this? Vaccine yourself. Vaccinate your kids.


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