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Survey by Walgreens assesses flu season's impact
December 10th, 2013
DEERFIELD, Ill. – More than 11 million Americans had vacation plans disrupted by the flu during the 2012-13 flu season, underscoring the importance of getting vaccinated, according to a survey by Walgreen Co.
Walgreens said Tuesday that its 2013 Flu Impact Report revealed that 46% of the 1,200 adult respondents had the flu during last year's season, more than double the 20% who reported having flu the previous season.
The survey, released during the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Influenza Vaccination Week, also noted that the 2012-13 peaked earlier than usual, coming in December over the winter holidays. As a result, the number of people who missed vacation time nearly tripled, rising to over 11 million from 3.6 million in the previous 2010-11 flu season. The rough flu season significantly impacted holiday events in general, with 17 million of them cancelled or interrupted, based on survey projections.
What's more, the severity of last year's flu season resulted in three times the impact to employers when compared to a more typical flu season: $10.5 billion in 2010-11 versus
$30.4 billion in 2012-13, according to the Walgreens 2013 Flu Impact Report. Nationally the survey found that the flu cost employees $8.5 billion in lost wages, up 25% from the 2010-11 season.
"It is important to remember that the vaccine doesn't just protect the person getting a flu shot, it helps to protect friends, family, co-workers and others with whom they're coming in contact," Harry Leider, chief medical officer, for Walgreens, said in a statement. "This time of year, germs and viruses can easily spread as people travel, gather for the holidays and enjoy other seasonal community activities. Last year we saw the widespread effect this can have for those who maybe didn’t take the proper preventive measures."
In support of National Influenza Vaccination Week, Walgreens said it's collaborating with health departments and other community organizations in a number of states including Illinois, Nevada, Rhode Island and Texas, as well as the city of Boston, to host flu clinics and other events throughout the week.