It is estimated by the CDC that there are between 9.3 million and 49 million flu illnesses reported each year in America. Of these reported illnesses it is estimated that between 140,000 and 960,000 will result in a hospitalization.

Furthermore, between 12,000 and 79,000 will result in the death of an adult and between 37 and 1,200 children die.

Even though these figures are only estimates based on historical data collected by the CDC they are not entirely accurate for several reasons.

Mainly because no everyone who actually contracts the flu visits the doctor or is hospitalized, therefore their illness may not be counted.

It is especially difficult to calculate an accurate number of deaths caused by the flu.

Not everyone who dies with flu-like symptoms is tested for the influenza virus and some deaths may be attributed to other health conditions that were exacerbated by the flu symptoms.

This is true for both children and adults.

During the 2017-2018 flu season alone more than 49 million people were diagnosed with the flue. Nearly 96,000 of those were hospitalized and there were 79,000 documented flu deaths, 180 of them children. Making it the worse flu season since 1970.

Health care officials and the CDC believe there are several factors that contributed to the rise in deaths. One is that there was a significant drop in the number of people receiving the flu vaccine.

During the 2017-2018 flu season, there was a drop of 6.2 percent in the number of adults who were vaccinated meaning that only 37.1 percent of the adult population was vaccinated against the flu. Among children that rate dropped from 70 percent in the previous year to 67.8 percent.

Among the 183 children who died from influenza last year 146 of them or 80 percent, had not received a flu vaccination.

Another reason for the increase in the number of flu cases last year could be that the vaccines that were made were for an unanticipated strain.

Traditional flu vaccines are three-component (trivalent) vaccines that protect against three viruses: H1N1, the Michigan strain, and H3N2, the Hong Kong strain, both influenza type A viruses, and one Influenza type B virus called the Brisbane strain.

The H3N2 strain that was found last year was extremely severe and rapidly changed, making the vaccines that were made to target it were only 25 percent effective.

It is impossible to predict what influenza strain will circulate during the flu season. This makes it difficult for vaccine manufacturers to make a vaccine that is 100% effective. This year manufacturers have produced between 163-169 million injectable vaccines that are targeting the A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1) pdm09, A/Singapore/INFIMH-16-0019/2016 A(H3N2), and the B/Colorado/06/2017 (Victoria) strains of influenza. There is a quadrivalent (four-component) vaccines as well that also protects against the B/Phuket/3073/2013 (Yamagata) strain.

It is common knowledge that not everyone in America receives the flu vaccine.

Healthcare officials and the CDC does recommend that everyone get it each year not to completely prevent you from getting the flu.

Unfortunately, some people who have been vaccinated will still contract the flu.

The level of protection provided by the vaccine varies greatly based on many factors, like the age and overall health of the recipient at the time they receive the vaccine.

In general, the vaccine is more effective on younger, healthy adults and older children.

Studies show that the vaccine greatly reduces your risk of contracting the flu by 40-60 percent overall and it can shorten the duration and reduce the severity of flu symptoms after one dose.

As a result, vaccinated adults were 59 percent less likely to have the flu severe enough that required a hospital stay.

How Flu Vaccines are Made

Flu shots contain several ingredients in small quantities and often include a deactivated flu virus. Different forms of the vaccine will use slightly different ingredients but for the most part that contain the same ones.

An injection usually contains the deactivated flu virus and the nasal spray contains live viruses that have been weakened. The presence of the virus in the body triggers the body's natural defense mechanism to produce antibodies and fight off the virus.

Each vaccine contains small amounts of formaldehyde that is used to inactivate the toxins from the virus and bacteria that may be introduced during the manufacturing process. It contains aluminum salts that stimulate the body to develop a stronger immune system. These salts have been used to make vaccines for more than 70 years.

Thimerosal, a preservative, keeps bacteria and fungus from growing in the virus. A gelatin is used as a stabilizer to prevent damage from heat or freeze-drying. Antibiotics such as gentamicin or neomycin are also used to prevent bacteria from growing in the virus.

Finally, proteins from chicken eggs are used to help grow the viruses before they are put into the vaccine. The virus is put inside of a fertilized egg where it grows and replicates. The virus is then separated from the egg and put into the vaccine.

Popular Anti-Flu Vaccine Arguments Debunked

The flu vaccine will give you the flu.

Untrue. There are common side effects associated with the flu vaccine such swelling or redness at the injection site, muscle aches, fever and rarely nausea. These are often incorrectly mistaken as being the flu. It is important to keep in mind that it can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to become effective after you receive it so you are still susceptible to the flu during that time.

I'll wait until the flu hits my area.

Vaccines are only effective when they are received and because of the two weeks it may take to be completely covered, if you wait until a case has been reported in your area it may be to late. It is no more inconvenient to get the vaccine at the beginning of flu season and be protected well before it hits your area.

I was vaccinated last year, I don't need it this year.

Once again, it is only effective when you receive the vaccine. With the constantly changing virus strains, a new vaccine is required each year to maintain the best possible protection.

Local Data

The Leesville Daily Leader and the Beauregard Daily News ran two separate polls on Facebook asking our followers the following two questions.

1. Have you ever been diagnosed by a physician with the flu since 2013?

Leesville Daily Leader - 73% No, 27% Yes of 91 total votes.

Beauregard Daily News - 75% No, 25% Yes of 281 total votes.

2. Have you had a flu shot at least once since 2013?

Leesville Daily Leader - 42% No, 58% Yes of 120 total votes.

Beauregard Daily News - 45% No, 55% yes of the 282 total votes.

Overall, the flu vaccine will not prevent everyone from contracting influenza but the CDC recommends that everyone get it, anyone, to prevent a major pandemic.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the worst pandemic in human history, the Spanish flu which killed 50-100 million people during the winter of 1918-1919 and no one wants to see this happen again.