Flu Basics

How risky is the flu? How good is the vaccine? Will the vaccine prevent me from getting sick?

Getting Flu Shot
Toby Talbot -- AP
LONDON -- An expert panel commissioned by the World Health Organization to investigate its handling of the swine flu pandemic has slammed mistakes made by the U.N. body and warned tens of millions could die if there is a severe flu outbreak in the future.
AP IMPACT: Past medical testing on humans revealed (AP, February 27, 2011; 9:15 PM)
Flu season heats up (Post, February 21, 2011; 11:58 AM)
Pandemic over, flu gets back to normal: Millions will get ill and thousands will die, but vaccine should be plentiful (Post, September 7, 2010)

How Big a Killer Is the Flu?

  Flu Heart disease All causes
Number of U.S. deaths
in a typical year
36,000 703,000 2,443,000
Number who could have died 288,357,0000
(total U.S. population)
Annual risk 0.01%
(1 out of 10,000)
(24 out of 10,000)
(85 out of 10,000)
SOURCES: 2002 Federal death certificate data; estimate of flu deaths comes from Thompson et. al JAMA 2003, 289:179-186. | GRAPHIC: The Washington Post - October 25, 2005
© 2005 The Washington Post Company