Influenza, Why this year is different | Episode 024

Episode summary introduction:

About 45% of U.S. adults and 63% of children were vaccinated during the 2018–19 flu season. Even with those low numbers the CDC estimates 4.4 million flu cases were prevented, along with 58,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths. When people die of the flu, it’s usually because they get a secondary infection of pneumonia. The flu actually predisposes people to getting a bacterial infection. Imagine what would happen if we could increase vaccination?

Topic 1:

  • The CDC estimates that from 10/2019 to 4/2020;

  • 39-56,000,000 cases of the flu

  • 18-26,000,000 flu related medical appointments

  • 410,000 - 740,000 hospitalizations from the flu

  • 24,000 -62,000 deaths from the flu

Topic 2:

Does the flu vaccine give you the flu? In short - no In randomized, blinded studies, where some patients receive inactivated flu vaccine and others get saline injections, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.

There are several types of influenza; seasonal, pandemic, avian, and swine flu.

Topic 3:

Studies show that flu antiviral treatments work best when started within two days of getting sick.

However, starting them later can still be beneficial, if the person is at high risk of serious flu complications or is in the hospital with more severe illness.

Topic 4:

There is active research to find a one-time influenza vaccine. Right now scientists take proteins from the virus one year and try to predict the genetic changes. This prediction helps develop new vaccines. However, if the predictions are wrong, the vaccine is less effective. Welcome to Hotel Influenza, a current research facility is working on developing a one time vaccination against influenza.


This year may be one of the most important in flu history. With COVID 19 circulating during this flu, complications of having one or both can be deadly. The FDA is currently working under the EUA to develop test kits that can determine if a patient has flu A/B or COVID with one swab.


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