According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 16 marked the end of flu season, though that is no comfort to those still picking up what is commonly called a “stomach virus” or, simply, “the bug.”
In 2012, cases of flu were reported earlier than usual, which led the CDC to predict that this would be a bad year — especially on the elderly and the very young. The CDC was right. Though overall the season was “moderately severe,” in those age categories the statistics were grim.
Among those 65 and older, the number hospitalized with flu-related illnesses was more than two times higher than in previous years. The CDC does not keep records of how many older sufferers died from the disease, but it is likely that that number grew, as well, despite improved treatment.
The CDC does keep mortality records on children, and those statistics show that more than 100 died from the flu. Most were very young.
What makes this even worse is that many of these deaths could have been prevented.
The CDC recommends that children six months and older be vaccinated for flu every year. This can be done with the traditional “flu shot” and with the more recently developed nasal spray, which is said to be very effective in children.
All but four of the U.S. pediatric deaths were old enough to be vaccinated. Ninety percent of those who died had not had either the shot or the spray.
There are many parents who make the conscious decision not to have their children vaccinated. Unless this becomes one of the immunizations required to enter school, there is little government or medical officials can do about this other than preach the necessity.
In other cases, cost and/or location play a significant role in who receives the preventative. It is sad that in a nation as advanced as ours that there are some who want their children (or themselves) vaccinated yet cannot find a way.