A century ago, the Spanish Flu killed somewhere between 50 and 100 million people, making it the worst catastrophe of the 20th century. It came along right after the first World War and killed more people than that war. While it was called Spanish Flu all over the world, the first outbreak was actually recorded in Kansas in 1918. Experts disagree about the origin of the outbreak, but fall of 1918 was the worst of the pandemic, so this is the centenary of the flu — the 100th anniversary.
Communication has improved enormously since 1918 and flu vaccines protect us. We have never seen another influenza pandemic like the Spanish Flu since that first outbreak. Mortality rates were high for children under 5 years of age and adults over 65 years of age. Young children and older adults are typically the highest risk groups for the flu, but a high number of healthy adults between the ages of 20 and 40 also died during the 1918 flu pandemic.
In 1917, life expectancy for men was 48 years, and 54 years for women in the United States. In 1918, after the flu pandemic hit, life expectancy fell to 36 years for men and 42 years for women.
Get a flu shot every flu season
Looking back on this tragic flu pandemic is a reminder of the importance of flu vaccination. Seasonal flu vaccinations are made each year to help prevent another flu pandemic like the one that struck 100 years ago. The U.S. Public Health Service has recommended annual flu vaccination since 1960.Last flu season, 80% of children who died from the flu were not vaccinated, according to the CDC. Click To Tweet
Vaccine effectiveness varies, but studies indicate that effective flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by 40-60 percent among the overall population. Flu vaccines also decreases the severity of flu infections, and reduces the number of hospitalizations and deaths related to the flu.
The CDC reported that 80% of children who died from the flu last flu season had not received flu vaccination.