National Press Conference Kicks Off 2018-2019 Flu Vaccination Campaign

CDC Influenza Division Director Dan Jernigan, M.D., M.P.H.

CDC Influenza Division Director Dan Jernigan, M.D., M.P.H. Dr. Jernigan took questions from the media and received his flu vaccine, emphasizing that now is the time for everyone 6 months and older to get their flu shot!

On September 27, 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) along with other public health and medical groups kicked off the 2018-2019 flu vaccine campaign at a press conference held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. CDC early estimates indicate that more than 900,000 people were hospitalized and more than 80,000 people died from flu last season[1]. These new estimates are record-breaking, and emphasize the seriousness and severity of flu illness and serve as a strong reminder of the importance of flu vaccination.

Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, and a growing body of evidence supports the fact that vaccination also reduces the risk of serious flu outcomes that can result in hospitalization and even death. CDC estimates that flu vaccines prevent tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year and a CDC study in 2017 was the first of its kind to show flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated death by half (51 percent) among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions and by nearly two-thirds (65 percent) among healthy children. Most recently, an August 2018 study showed that flu vaccination lessened the risk of severe flu among adults, including reducing the risk of hospitalization and admission to the intensive care unit, and also lessened severity of illness. These benefits are especially important for people at high risk of serious flu complications, like people 65 and older, children younger than 5 years, pregnant women and people with certain underlying long-term medical conditions like heart and lung disease, or diabetes.

CDC recommends that people be vaccinated anytime between now and the end of October. CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone age six months and older.

[1] Note: Estimates based on unpublished CDC data. These estimates are made based on rates of lab-confirmed influenza deaths in CDC’s hospital surveillance system, adjusted for two sources of under-detection: influenza testing practices in the surveillance hospitals, and the proportion of people with similar causes of death who die outside the hospital. This methodology was first published in PLOS One, but has been fine-tuned to make it more accurate.

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