Influenza (flu) is a serious condition that can result in significant mortality and morbidity. It is a widespread condition that occurs primarily during the winter months. Influenza is a disease that occurs in all age groups. However, mortality associated with influenza is most likely to occur in individuals over the age of sixty-five, children under the age of five and individuals with medical concerns and co-morbidities. In addition, Native Americans are at higher risk for complications from the disease (People at high-risk for developing flu-related complications, 2013).
Influenza may be transmitted from one individual to another through respiratory droplets. These tend to occur when an individual who is contagious with the flu coughs or sneezes. An individual may also be exposed by touching a surface contaminated with influenza viruses. Once the viral particles are on the person’s hands, he or she may touch his nose, mouth or eyes. This allows the virus to enter the person’s body (Key facts about influenza and flu vaccine, 2013). The best method to prevent the disease is through hand washing and vaccination. This requires public education.
A case-control study examined the effectiveness of the flu vaccine. The study focused on out-patients, in-patients and fatal cases of the flu. The study matched in-patients with out-patients. All cases had influenza that was confirmed by laboratory studies. If an individual died of the disease or required intensive-care, he or she was determined to have a severe case of influenza. Overall, the authors determined that the influenza vaccine prevented individuals from developing severe cases of the flu. While the vaccine may not prevent all cases of the disease, it does produce antibodies that reduce the virulence of the disease. This supports the need to encourage influenza vaccination. This is particularly true for individuals who are at greater risk for developing severe complications from influenza (Castillo, Godoy, Dominquez et al, 2013, p. 167).