How deadly is the flu?
While most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, some people will develop complications. These complications can be life-threatening and result in death.
Each year in the U.S., the CDC estimates that influenza results in:
- 9.3 – 45.0 million illnesses
- 140,000 - 810,000 hospitalizations (about 20,000 of those hospitalized are children under the age of 5)
- 12,000 - 61,000 deaths (including over 100 children)
Influenza is one of the deadliest vaccine-preventable diseases in America.
DEATHS IN CHILDREN
On average, over 100 children die from the flu and its complications every year in the U.S. To date, over 2,000 children have lost their lives to flu since 2004. About 80% of children who die from flu are not vaccinated and half had no prior medical conditions.
Pediatric flu deaths are underreported, so this number could be much larger than 2,000.
DEATHS IN SENIORS
Impact of Flu on Seniors
During most flu seasons, individuals who are 65 years+ tend to bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease - up to 85% of flu deaths and 70% of flu hospitalizations.
Compared to children and adults, seniors are more likely to be hospitalized and die from the effects of influenza.
Flu in seniors accounts for:
Prevent Flu Deaths
Everyone 6 months and older needs a flu vaccine every year to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting sick with the flu.
The flu vaccine is updated annually to help protect against circulating flu strains and it’s the best defense we have to fight flu.
If you or someone you know have been impacted by flu, grief support resources are available here.
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Page last reviewed: October 2021.