"Think of it, 180 families put a child in a grave previous year because of a vaccine-preventable infection", said Dr. Wendy Sue L. Swanson with Seattle Children's Hospital.
"That's huge", Dr, William Schaffer, a vaccine expert at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, told the AP. Last year, 220 residents participated in the clinic, which is almost half the amount of the 400 people who participated the previous year. "We are encouraging everyone to get a flue shot to protect themselves and their families, because it is hard to predict in advance how several the flu season is going to be".
Influenza is a serious illness that can lead to hospitalization and even death. "Influenza-like illness (ILI) was at or above the national baseline for 19 weeks, making the 2017-2018 season one of the longest in recent years", stated the CDC in a Summary of the 2017-2018 Influenza Season.
Last year, 180 children died from the flu.
The CDC maintains that flu vaccination is the best way to prevent flu and serious flu-related complications, even though the vaccine is not ideal. "Everyone 6 months and older, even healthy teens and young adults, should get vaccinated".
Tampa Bay area hospitals reported only a handful of flu cases, but Orlando has seen a big increase this week. So the CDC uses statistical models, which are periodically revised, to make estimates.
The flu typically kills by triggering other deadly conditions such as pneumonia, stroke and heart attack.
Public health officials say that the estimated 80,000 people might still be revised, but not expected to significantly go down. This comes after a severe flu season.
The timing and severity of the flu season varies each year, depending on the strains that circulate. "We don't know what's going to happen", Dr. Jernigan said, "but we're seeing more encouraging signs than we were early previous year".
It's not easy to compare flu seasons through history, partly because the nation's population is changing. "If you're around other people and you develop the flu, you're putting them at risk for developing complications from the flu", said Dr. Lopez. "Studies show that, in addition to helping to protect pregnant women, a flu vaccine given during pregnancy helps protect babies from flu infection for their first several months of life, before they are old enough to be vaccinated". Flu vaccines given with a needle (i.e., flu shots) are now made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with flu viruses that have been "inactivated" (killed) and that therefore are not infectious, or using only a single gene from a flu virus (as opposed to the full virus) in order to produce an immune response without causing infection.