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The Flu’s Sickening $10B Impact

It’s flu season, and that means millions of Americans will be miserable, suffering with fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, and fatigue. But the flu’s impact isn’t limited to physical symptoms; it has an economic impact as well—an estimated annual $10.4 billion in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits for adults.

While most people recover from the flu after a few sick days, the worst cases end up in the hospital with bronchitis or pneumonia. Some people even die. Older Americans, children under age five, and people with certain long-term health conditions and pregnant women are more likely to suffer flu complications.

In the 2015-2016 flu season, the CDC says an estimated 24.5 million were stricken with the flu, resulting in 11 million medical visits, 308,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths.

Despite the wide availability of a flu vaccine, less than half of the American population bothers to get a flu shot. In the 2015-2016 flu season, just 43.3% of U.S. adults got the flu vaccine, according to the CDC. For those under age 18, the rate was 59%. The CDC estimates the flu vaccine prevented about 5.1 million illnesses, 2.5 million flu-induced medical visits, and 71,000 hospitalizations.

“Getting the flu shot should be a no-brainer,” said certified financial planner Chris Chen, wealth strategist with Insight Financial Strategists in Waltham, MA. “The low or free cost of the shot is one of the great deals of everyday living, given what it can cost if you get the flu.”

For questions, comments or concerns, please contact Jennifer Duell Popovec

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