The flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness. Worldwide 9 percent of the population is affected annually.
There are up to 1 billion infections, 3-5 million severe cases and 300,000 to 500,000 deaths each year.
In the U.S. nearly 20 percent of the population is affected with documented 20 to 50 million infections, 225,000 hospitalizations and an average 36,000 deaths annually.
All ages can get the flu. Most flu related deaths occur in the elderly (65 years and older), the very young and those with heart and lung disease.
The elderly make up 15 percent of the U.S. population but account for 65 percent of hospitalizations and 90 percent of deaths due to the flu.
The best prevention for the flu is immunization. In an average year the flu vaccine is 70 percent protective from getting the flu.
If you have not already received the flu vaccine now is the time to be immunized.