How Is Pandemic Flu Different from Seasonal Flu?

Seasonal Flu vs. Pandemic Flu

Seasonal Flu

Pandemic Flu

How often does it happen?

Seasonal Flu: Happens annually and usually peaks between December and February

Pandemic Flu: Rarely happens (three times in 20th century)

Will most people be immune?

Seasonal Flu: Usually some immunity from previous exposures and influenza vaccination

Pandemic Flu: Most people have little or no immunity because they have no previous exposure to the virus or similar viruses

Who is at risk for complications?

Seasonal Flu: Certain people are at high-risk for serious complications (infants, elderly, pregnant women, extreme obesity and persons with certain chronic medical conditions)

Pandemic Flu: Healthy people also may be at high risk for serious complications

Where can I get medical care?

Seasonal Flu: Health care providers and hospitals can usually meet public and patient needs

Pandemic Flu: Health care providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed
Alternate care sites may be available to meet public and patient needs

Will a vaccine be available?

Seasonal Flu: Vaccine available for annual flu season
Usually, one dose of vaccine is needed for most people

Pandemic Flu: Although the US government maintains a limited stockpile of pandemic vaccine, vaccine may not be available in the early stages of a pandemic
Two doses of vaccine may be needed

Will antivirals be available?

Seasonal Flu: Adequate supplies of antivirals are usually available

Pandemic Flu: Antiviral supply may not be adequate to meet demand

How many people could get sick and suffer complications?

Seasonal Flu: Rates of medical visits, complications, hospitalizations and death can vary from low to high
CDC estimates that flu-related hospitalizations since 2010 ranged from 140,000 to 710,000, while flu-related deaths are estimated to have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000.

Pandemic Flu: Rates of medical visits, complications, hospitalizations and death can range from moderate to high
Number of deaths could be much higher than seasonal flu (e.g. The estimated U.S. death toll during the 1918 pandemic was approximately 675,000)

What impact will it have on schools and workplaces?

Seasonal Flu: Usually causes minor impact on the general public, some schools may close and sick people are encouraged to stay home
Manageable impact on domestic and world economies

Pandemic Flu: May cause major impact on the general public, such as travel restrictions and school or business closings
Potential for severe impact on domestic and world economies

Infographic

Seasonal Flu vs. Pandemic Flu Infographic