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U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaking at Sept. 27 news conference. Photo: Eileen Drage O'Reilly/Axios

The last flu season was particularly severe — causing at least 80,000 American deaths including 180 children and 900,000 hospitalizations — because of the types of influenza strains and the fact that certain groups did not get inoculated, public health officials said Thursday. They made these announcements as they kicked off their #FightFlu vaccination campaign.

Why it matters: Many of those deaths were preventable, according to U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams. Even when the vaccine's effectiveness is not as high as hoped, as happened last season, the shots or FluMist can still boost the immune system enough to limit how hard the virus hits as well as minimizing its spread.

"80,000 people died last year ... Guess what? They all got the flu from someone."
— Jerome Adams

Worrisome trends seen last year, officials said at the conference presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, include lower vaccination rates for 3 vulnerable populations.

  • Children aged 6 months to 17 years old: Vaccinations among this group dropped to 57.9%. "The decline in coverage in this age group is very, very worrisome," Adams said. 80% of the 180 children who died from the flu last season in 2017-2018 weren't vaccinated.
  • Pregnant women: Vaccinations among this group fell to 49.1%. "Pregnant women who get the flu do very poorly. They do way worse than any non-pregnant individual," says Weill Cornell Medicine's Laura Riley, who's the representative of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Plus the antibodies from the mother can help protect the newborn the first couple months after birth, she adds.
  • Health care workers: Vaccinations among this group slipped to 78.4%, particularly in long-term care workers, which is concerning since they are in contact with a vulnerable population, Adams says.

The big picture: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone 6 months and older receive the flu shot or FluMist before the last week of October, since it takes 2 weeks for antibodies to generate, says Daniel Jernigan, head of the CDC’s influenza division.

  • Jernigan says the number of estimated deaths from the 2017-2018 season was increased after the CDC searched thoroughly through hospital data. “Last year was just a horrible season,” he says, and added that the flu mimicked what happened in Australia.
  • The vast majority of those who died were more than 65 years old, Jernigan says.

What's new: FluMist nasal vaccine has been determined effective and will be offered to those who meet its requirements. The full vaccine details are here.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucus.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
15 hours ago - Economy & Business

The unicorn stampede is coming

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Airbnb and DoorDash plan to go public in the next few weeks, capping off a very busy year for IPOs.

What's next: You ain't seen nothing yet.

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