CDC devises new way to estimate flu-related deaths

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CDC devises new way to estimate flu-related deaths
CDC devises new way to estimate flu-related deaths

Many healthcare workers may be familiar with this statistic: Each year, roughly 36,000 people die from influenza. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is walking away from this decades-old figure, saying the actual death toll varies greatly year to year.

The familiar 36,000-deaths-per-year estimate originated in the early 1990s, and was based on the lethality of the then-common H3N2 strain of influenza, according to the CDC. The number of deaths caused by that strain of flu is typically 2.7 times higher than other strains, including H1N1 or influenza B. Flu deaths actually range from about 3,300 to as many as 49,000 per year, and it is nearly impossible to predict the impact the flu will have at the start of the season, CDC officials said in their estimate revision Thursday.

Seniors still account for roughly 90% of flu deaths each year, CDC researchers confirmed in their announcement. This year for the first time, the CDC has recommended that everyone over the age of six months receive a flu vaccine.

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