It strikes a few times each century, and most of us will be unarmed to fight it off on our own when it hits.
The flu season is in full swing. Some people jump at the chance to get their flu shot, and others feel it isn’t for them. It’ll make me sick, they say. Others feel it doesn’t help.
Some of this may be true. Keep in mind that 80,000 people died from the flu last year America. According to Vox.com, that’s more people than died from traffic accidents, gun violence and opioid overdoses.
When looking at children specifically, 180 died from the flu last year and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 80% of these kids didn’t have their flu shot.
So, the shot didn’t necessarily prevent people from suffering through the flu entirely, but it did do a pretty good job of stopping people from dying from it.
But those are just stats on the seasonal flu- and they’re dire enough. What about a flu pandemic?
Here are some things to know about one, from the CDC.
Pandemic flu doesn’t strike each year, but a few times per century. (It hit 3 times in the 20th century). Most people will have little or no immunity to it when it comes, as most of us haven’t been exposed to a virus like it before. Even healthy people will be at risk of serious complications and dying from it. And hospitals may be overwhelmed, not to strike a feeling of doomsday in you or anything.
What about prevention? The U.S government thankfully keeps a limited stockpile of pandemic flu vaccine on hand, the CDC states. But in the early stages of a pandemic, it might be hard to get a hold of some. And two doses might be needed to have any lasting effect, experts say.
As for antivirals, there may not be enough of these to go around, either. A pandemic flu season could have a large impact on world economies, and result in travel restrictions, as well as things such as school closures.
So, wash your hands well, stay home if you’re sick, and be prepared.
And go get your seasonal flu shot- you don’t need to be fighting off two things at once.