During the annual Influenza/Pneumococcal Disease news conference on Thursday, hosted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, public health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, urged the public to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation for everyone to get vaccinated against flu.
“Everybody, 6 months of age or older, should get an annual flu vaccine,” asserted Fauci.
“Influenza, all by itself, is a profoundly serious viral infection, which causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations each year, with the major complication being pneumonia, and many thousands of deaths,” Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News.
Only 48% of U.S. adults were vaccinated against the flu during 2019-2020, leading to 38 million flu illnesses, 18 million flu-associated medical visits, 400,000 flu hospitalizations and 22,000 flu deaths, according to CDC estimates.
“We’re at greatest risk of becoming seriously ill,” Fauci said during the conference. “It’s our personal responsibility to protect ourselves. But we also have a responsibility to protect the vulnerable around us, including young children, pregnant women, adults, 65 years of age or older and those with underlying chronic health conditions.”
“First, get vaccinated,” he continued, “and take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.”
Vaccine hesitation is a major public health issue in America, but vaccines are the most effective tool in combating infectious diseases. Last year, the flu vaccine prevented 7.5 million flu illnesses, 3.7 million flu-associated medical visits, 105,000 flu hospitalizations and 6,300 flu deaths, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
The flu vaccine is not 100% effective, thus, it may be possible for some people to get vaccinated and still get the flu. However, getting the vaccine makes the symptoms of the flu much less severe than it would have been if you never got the shot.
“Each year, we show that people who are vaccinated, and run the risk of getting influenza, are less likely to have to go to the emergency room, less likely to be hospitalized, less likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit. And they’re less likely to die,”