"Last season illustrated what every public health official knows - influenza can be serious in people of all ages, even in the healthiest children and adults", said Dr. Jerome Adams, the U.S. Surgeon General, in a released statement.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control finds 80,000 people died from flu complications in 2018, and 900,000 were hospitalized. Also a yearly flu shot is needed because a person's immune protection from being vaccinated decreases after a year.
Private manufacturers, which produce the vaccine, have projected needing between 163 million and 168 million doses of injectable vaccine for the US market for the 2018-2019 flu season.
William Schaffner is medical director at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, which organized the news conference Thursday. "Getting vaccinated is the socially responsible thing to do".
"Last year was just a frightful season", said Daniel Jernigan, head of the CDC's influenza division. The 1918 flu pandemic, which lasted almost two years, killed more than 500,000 Americans, historians estimate.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all children 6 months and older get a flu shot by the end of October.
About 40 percent of US residents received a seasonal flu vaccination a year ago. That group still had the highest coverage level, at 67.8%; adolescents and teens lagged, at 47.4%.
The 2017-2018 flu season was made worse by two factors: strains that hit the very young and elderly especially hard, and a poor matchup between those strains and those in the flu vaccine. That's the highest flu-related death toll in the USA four decades, according to the Associated Press. The vaccine takes about two weeks to become effective, so doctors recommend not waiting until friends, family and co-workers are already sick. "People with egg allergies no longer have to wait 30 minutes after receiving their vaccine". The second most common concern for both vaccines was safety risks to the baby.
Flu vaccination is not a ideal tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection. "The flu vaccine protects those who receive it as well as those in the community who can not be vaccinated due to medical conditions".
"The overwhelming majority of those children are not vaccinated". The findings were based on an Internet survey conducted in March and April. This is the highest reported number on record in the past 40 years. The proportion of US children (aged six months to 17 years) who received vaccinations varied widely by state, from 42 percent in Wyoming to 76 percent in Rhode Island, and the national average was 58 percent.