The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its official estimate of the toll of last year’s flu season: An estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and related complications—the highest death toll in over 40 years. Public health experts usually consider it a “bad year” when flu-related mortality hits the 20,000 mark, according to an interview CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD gave to the Associated Press. The severity was due to a particularly harsh strain that did not match up well with the vaccine formulation. When patients say that’s evidence that immunization doesn’t work, view it as an opportunity to set the record straight. It’s likely the death toll would have been higher without the flu shot, because even patients who get the flu in spite of vaccination tend to have a milder case that’s of shorter duration. Further, stress that “flu” doesn’t necessarily kill outright, but can lead to fatal complications like pneumonia, stroke, and heart attack. Offer to vaccinate them on site, and remind them that you’ll be available to treat them if they or loved ones do come down with influenza.

Need Incentive to Push Flu Shots? CDC Says 80,000 Died Last Season
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