DEERFIELD, Ill. — The typical flu season always coincides with the busiest travel period of the year, and last season that spelled trouble for more than 3 million U.S. vacationers whose trips were interrupted by flu-related illness, according to the "Walgreens Flu Impact Report" released Tuesday.
The findings in part two of the survey examining the effects of influenza on people's everyday lives, released today, showed how the flu affected Americans' vacations, holidays, social engagements, sporting events and more.
"The one constant when it comes to flu season is that it's unpredictable, and flu activity can generally peak any time between October and April in the [United States]," stated Cheryl Pegus, Walgreens chief medical officer. "In addition to holidays and planned vacations, there may be other engagements and important dates that fall when flu is widely circulating. There's no planning for an ill-timed illness, and these findings from last year's typical flu season reinforce the importance of getting a flu shot each year."
Body aches and muscle pain, as well as headache and fatigue, are the most common symptoms associated with flu and can be distressing to sick patients. There are, however, many other symptoms that are possible, especially among children. Of all the possible flu-like symptoms, it is the vomiting (65%) and diarrhea (51%) people dread the most, although they occur less frequently. Sore throat and fever/chills ranked a distant third and fourth, respectively.
"These severe symptoms that can last many days and require physician and hospital visits can be very serious, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continually stresses flu prevention and recommends flu shots for everyone over the age of 6 months," Pegus said. According to the CDC, on average 13% of the U.S. population gets the flu every year, with active flu seasons seeing closer to 20%, or more than 62 million Americans.
The Walgreens survey was fielded Sept. 1 to 8 to a Vision Critical Springboard America panel to a nationally representative sample of 1,200 Americans age 18 years or older. Flu Impact Report results were weighted on key demographics to allow projection of results to the entire U.S. adult population. Results are based on self-reported instances of the flu and flu-like symptoms. Projections incorporated the latest data available for average compensation and hours worked from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, population data and projections from the U.S. Census and compared against beta Flu Work Loss models developed by the CDC.