When flu season rolls around, hundreds of thousands of Americans will get sick. Nearly a quarter-million will be hospitalized. Tens of thousands will die.
Despite the risks, only about a third of Americans will get vaccinated. Researchers now say the nation’s vaccination priorities need to shift. That’s because the groups least likely to get the shots — kids and young adults — are the most likely to spread the germs. “In most cases, the available flu vaccine could be used more effectively and save more lives by increasing the number of vaccinated children and young adults,” says Jan Medlock of OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Historically, flu prevention efforts have targeted the elderly, the chronically ill, people with weak immunity, health-care workers — in other words, those most at-risk for death or severe illness. But a computer model shows that stopping flu bugs at schools and workplaces helps break the cycle of transmission to all populations, Medlock says.