90% of flu hospitalizations are patients who already have 1 or more chronic health issues

Around 171.8 million doses of flu vaccine have been given in the U.S. since the viral season began, according to data from the CDC. However, health organizations are still encouraging more adults to consider vaccinating against the flu if they haven't already this season.

According to a Feb. 6 joint press release from the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the American Diabetes Association, "Compared to last year's mild flu season, the U.S. has already seen more than three times the number of flu-related deaths."

A large share of flu-related deaths comes from older Americans. Those who already have an underlying health condition such as heart disease, history of stroke, diabetes, obesity and chronic lung diseases make up 90 percent of flu hospitalizations, the press release stated. 

Vaccination is an important measure, particularly for older Americans, as one study found that "Flu-related hospitalizations have decreased by around 50% among older adults who received flu shots, including those ages 75 and older."

The associations noted that the same chronic conditions that make individuals more susceptible to hospitalization because of the flu also put them at higher risk for COVID-19 complications, so continuing to stay vaccinated against both is critical.

"We want to reiterate that not only should people with any chronic illness get a flu shot, but their loved ones and friends should also protect them by getting the flu vaccine," Albert Rizzo, MD, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association said in a press statement. "It's imperative that we slow the spread of the flu this year as much as possible to continue to decrease the number of cases and hospitalizations, and to protect our most vulnerable loved ones."

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