Seasonal influenza is more than just a mild cold
Seasonal influenza is a highly communicable, acute viral infection that predominantly attacks the respiratory tract and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and can lead to death. Up to 5 to 15 percent of the worldwide population is infected each year and approximately 250,000 to 500,000 die. More than 90 percent of deaths associated with influenza in industrialized countries occur among those 65 years of age and over.
Despite the severity of the illness, many people mistakenly believe that influenza is merely a severe cold. While colds and influenza share many symptoms, they are caused by different viruses and can result in different consequences for patients. Influenza-related complications can include pneumonia and dehydration, and worsening of chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
Vaccination is one of the most significant public health interventions ever implemented, sparing millions of people from complications of infectious diseases. Use of currently available vaccines has been calculated to save more than 8 million lives annually, translating to one person saved every five seconds.