An estimated 36,000 Americans will die from the influenza virus this year, and another 200,000 will be hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The flu vaccination has been confirmed by the CDC to decrease the amount of flu-related deaths among adolescents by 51 percent.
In a study conducted by Pediatrics, 358 children in the U.S. died from the virus throughout four flu seasons. Of those children whose vaccination condition was known, 26 percent had been vaccinated.
The CDC reported that the death toll of U.S. children exceeded 100 during the 2016-17 flu season. In years prior, approximately 80-85 percent kids who died of influenza complications were not vaccinated.
Less than half of the American population received vaccinations last flu season, leaving 53.2 percent of Americans unvaccinated, as stated in a press release from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Jennifer Aanestad, a local family practice doctor, believes that a lack of understanding of the vaccine can often discourage people from getting the shot.
“People frequently think they can get influenza from the flu shot, which is not correct,” Aanestad said. “The flu shot does not contain any live virus, therefore you cannot get influenza from the shot.”
According to an article published by National Public Radio, British doctor Andrew Wakefield wrote an essay in 1998 promoting the idea that the MMR vaccine is linked to autism. In 2010, the paper was proven to be fraudulent and his medical license was revoked soon after. The assumption that vaccines can trigger this developmental disorder was sparked by Wakefield’s paper 19 years ago.
Dr. Thomas Scholz, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, said that the false association between the influenza shot and autism steers people away.
“The idea that the shot can cause autism is a myth. Much of this misinformation has been spread on social media and propagated by people without a medical degree giving their input,” Scholz said.
Roxanne Schmertmann, the BHS nurse, as well as Aanestad, regard the flu vaccination as not only important for the person getting the shot, but also for the surrounding people.
“This [the flu vaccination] can help reduce missed days at work or school, and can help protect the vulnerable population when you get the vaccine,” said Schmertmann.
“I believe the flu shot is very important for both personal and public health,” said Aanestad.
The flu vaccine is available at Walgreens, Hy-Vee, CVS, Schnucks, and Target, as well as any primary care physician’s office.