It’s here again — flu vaccine season. Soon to be followed by flu infection season.
Collectively, each year we experience whatever the flu virus sends our way. Some years are worse than others. Last influenza season was considered moderate in the United States, but sadly, more than 100 children died.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how severe influenza can be for individuals, families and communities. Forgetting the deadly potential of the flu virus coupled with the busy time of year and the myths that continue to circulate about the flu vaccine all coalesce to keep annual flu vaccination rates lower than we would hope.
But here are three reasons why it is important to make time to get all family members vaccinated:
- Early indicators suggest this flu season is going to be severe. Officials use two common predictors to anticipate what to expect in terms of influenza disease each year. First, because the southern and northern hemispheres experience inverse flu seasons, public health organizations in regions like Europe and North America can use data and trends from South America and Australia to anticipate the type of flu season ahead. Second, officials pay attention to how early people start getting infected with influenza in the U.S. Australia is experiencing a severe influenza season, and people in the U.S. have already started getting influenza; therefore, officials are bracing for what could be a severe influenza season ahead.
- Historically, we know flu can cause widespread illness. The influenza virus can cause worldwide epidemics, known as pandemics. This happened three times in the 20th Century (1918, 1957 and 1968) and again in 2009. The story of the 1957 Asian Influenza Pandemic and how the healthcare community worked to combat its potentially catastrophic effects is told in this clip from the award-winning documentary HILLEMAN: A Perilous Quest to Save the World’s Children.
- Tragically, families across the United States and around the world know the devastation of influenza from personal experience. Families Fighting Flu (FFF) is a nonprofit organization comprised of families who have lost, or almost lost, a loved one from influenza. Many are families of children who succumbed to this disease that is often considered “just the flu.” Each year, these families work together to spread the word about the importance of flu vaccination for the entire family.
More about HILLEMAN: A Perilous Quest to Save the World’s Children
This award-winning film tells the story of Dr. Maurice R. Hilleman, a vaccine scientist whose work is credited with saving eight million lives every year. The film is part of the Vaccine Makers Project, an outreach program sponsored by the Vaccine Education Center, which also includes free, standards-aligned curricula for education about the immune system, infectious diseases and vaccines.
More about Families Fighting Flu
As part of its outreach efforts, Families Fighting Flu (FFF) shares the personal stories of its member families whose lives have been forever altered by the loss or near loss of a loved one. In addition to these impactful stories, FFF offers a variety of resources for adults and children and is a contributing member of the Keep Flu out of School initiative.