The flu vaccine kept nearly 80,000 people out of the hospital last year, and prevented 6.6 million cases of flu, federal officials reported on Thursday.
Overall, vaccination lowered the rate of illness and hospitalization by 17 percent — and that’s with a fairly low vaccination rate of 45 percent nationally, CDC officials said.
“This is by far the largest number of hospitalizations and other illnesses that we have seen prevented,” said CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden. “Even with these hospitalizations that were prevented, we still had about 381,000 flu-associated hospitalizations in the last season,” Frieden told reporters.
That’s partly because last year’s flu season was pretty severe. “Last year, the flu season hit early and it hit hard,” said CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat.
If 70 percent of the population had been vaccinated, 4.4 million people would not have gotten sick and 30,000 more would have stayed out of the hospital, CDC estimates.