Anywhere from 5-20% of Americans will spend five to 10 days each year feeling tired, achy, feverish, and nauseated thanks to a respiratory virus known as the flu.
While people who are generally healthy will be fine after a bout of flu, those who are very young, old, or immunocompromised due to other conditions can have a much tougher time. About 35,000 people in the U.S. will die each year after getting the flu, and as many as 200,000 will wind up hospitalized due to side effects, which including dehydration, bacterial pneumonia, and congestive heart failure.
To make matters worse, those who are at the greatest risk of having complications aren't always able to receive the annual vaccine. This makes it much more important for those who are able to get the shot to do so — in order to create "herd immunity" to protect society's most vulnerable members.
Because influenza viruses evolve so rapidly, it's important to get the flu shot each year to gain protection against the latest strains.
Matthew Santoro breaks down why humans get the flu in the first place and what everyone should do to protect themselves from this potentially deadly disease:
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