Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is an illness that is often confused with lesser illnesses, such as the common cold. Often the phrase “I’ve just got the flu” is heard in reference to a simple cold. The flu is an uncertain virus that can cause uncomfortable illness in healthier people, as well as severe sickness and, unfortunately, death for more vulnerable people. Despite being constantly referring to in blasé tones, the flu kills. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, flu is responsible for 291,000 – 646,000 deaths related to influenza-related illnesses each year, worldwide.
In the UK the flu jab is available, for free, to those who are at risk. This includes children age 6 months or older, pregnant women, adults 65 years old or older, those with specific medical conditions, and those who are employed as careers. For those who are not eligible for a free flu jab, the flu jab can be bought from most pharmacies and some supermarkets from a cheap as £5. With various pharmacies and supermarkets offering both online booking appointments and walk-in services, getting a flu jab in the UK is cheap and easy.
The flu-related death rate in the UK is averaging at 600 deaths. This is still a significant number, but drastically lower than the overall worldwide death rate. But is this due to the low-cost and general availability of vaccines in the UK? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the greatest flu death rate comes from poorer regions of the world, and is more prominent among older adults. Additionally, people living in sub-Saharan African countries are more likely to experience higher rates of flu-associated deaths. The cheap and easy to access aspects of the vaccine in the UK are important to the lower flu-related death rate. However, age, vulnerability and region are elements that can and have affected the way that we experience and deal with the influenza virus.
The flu jab
Ultimately, with the environmental aspects of influenza also considered, the availability of the vaccine can fundamentally affect the overall death rate of a specific region. Often the flu is disregarded due to people being uninformed about the dangers, or simply believing that it won’t affect them. With the current flu season in full swing across the world, this can be deadly – and cause fatal outcomes. The flu jab is known to be effective by reducing the odds of getting the flu by 60%, as well as those who still get the flu only having to deal with a much milder version. There is strong research backing the use of the flu jab throughout the world, and solidifying its potential for helping to keep people safe.
At FluCamp, we work with the flu and the common cold so that we can better understand how they affect our immune systems. We hope to one day find a cure and to ultimately eliminate more common illnesses altogether. Want to know how you can help? We need people like you to participate! Find out more about our trials.