FEATURE Protect Yourself and Your Communities this Fall from a Serious Viral Threat: Influenza I nfluenza (flu) is predictably unpredictable. While we can anticipate its arrival each year, we never know exactly when flu season is going to peak each season or how severe it will be. Seasonal flu activity often begins as early as October or November and can continue well into May. What we do know for certain is that the flu can cause serious illness in people of ages and that thousands of people will die. Last season's surveillance data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes the dangers quite clearly - 106 children died from flu-related illness (most of them were unvaccinated). 2 DELAWARE COUNTY MEDICINE & HEALTH winter 2017 Some people are at greater risk of serious complications from flu, such as young children, pregnant women, adults aged 65 years and older, and people with certain chronic medical conditions. However, the reality is that influenza can be dangerous and deadly to almost anybody. That is why the CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine each year. Even Healthy Children Can Die from Flu A new CDC study published in Pediatrics is the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination significantly reduced a child's risk of dying from influenza. The study, which looked at data from four flu seasons between 2010 and 2014, found that flu vaccination reduced the risk of fluassociated death by half (51 percent) among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions and by nearly two-thirds (65 percent) among healthy children.