The 2012-2013 flu season was the most severe in a decade, according to a new study from Walgreen Co.

Walgreens, flu season, Walgreens Flu Impact Report, 2012-2013 flu season, Harry Leider, flu shot

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New study takes look back at last year’s flu season

October 28th, 2013

DEERFIELD, Ill. – The 2012-2013 flu season was the most severe in a decade, according to a new study from Walgreen Co.

The report also reveals that many people delayed getting flu shots until November or even later, even though vaccine was available as early as August 2012.

The study, titled “Walgreens Flu Impact Report,” estimates that American adults missed 230 million workdays and children missed more than 90 million schooldays as a result of flu-related illness during the last flu season. By comparison, during the 2010-2011 flu season, adults missed 100 million workdays while children lost 32 million schooldays due to sickness.

“The flu season is always unpredictable, and the impact it can have on individuals and families at home and in the workplace can be significant,” says Dr. Harry Leider, chief medical officer at Walgreens. “Last year, with flu peaking early, a lot of people weren’t prepared and, as a result lost vacations and missed out on holidays. This underscores the importance of getting a flu shot early, and our report shows more people are planning to do so, along with taking other preventive measures this year.”

In terms of economic impact, the report calculates the cost of flu to employers was $30.4 billion, nearly triple the $10.5 billion lost in 2010-2011. For their part, employees lost more than $8.5 billion in wages due to missed work.

On average, employees missed three days of work in the 2012-2013 flu season, compared to one day during the 2010-2011 season. In addition, 6.2 million Americans missed a business trip in the most recent flu period, up from 2 million in 2010-2011.

Because the 2012-2013 flu season peaked in December, it wreaked havoc on the holiday celebrations and travel plans of millions. The report estimates that 17 million people missed a holiday event compared with 4.7 million in 2011, while 11 million missed a vacation, up from 3.6 million in the prior flu season.