How Many People Die from the Flu Each Year?

December 6, 2023
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Flu season is an essential time to take steps to safeguard your health and well-being. While vaccinations for influenza exist, numerous annual flu deaths occur each year, which makes the flu a cause of concern for many. Understanding flu risks and the number of flu fatalities can help you prepare for flu season and take proper preventive measures to protect your health.

However, when it comes to flu prevention and death rates, many are unaware of the ongoing prevalence of influenza in the public health sphere. Read more to discover the number of annual flu deaths and what this means in the context of public health.


How Many People Die From the Flu Each Year?

For the 2022-2023 influenza season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates a moderate severity season. During this period, an estimated 31 million people were sick with the flu, with 360,000 hospitalizations and 21,000 flu deaths occurring in the United States.

Globally, flu fatalities are much higher, especially given the risk of influenza-related respiratory diseases like pneumonia. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that global annual flu deaths are as high as 650,000 caused by respiratory diseases alone, making influenza death statistics a massive cause for concern in the global sphere.


Factors Contributing to the Seasonal Flu Impact: Understanding Flu Risks

Several contributing factors cause high influenza death statistics among different populations. Understanding flu risks requires knowing how this serious condition affects people across demographics. Below is a breakdown of some factors contributing to the influenza impact on health.



One of the biggest factors contributing to flu mortality rates is age. Annual flu deaths are much higher in infants and the elderly than in other populations compared to young adults. It’s estimated that individuals over 60 have a ten times higher risk of death from the flu than individuals aged 20. The risk of influenza death increases heavily when individuals pass the age of 20.



While flu mortality rates are higher in infants and the elderly, age is not the only factor contributing to flu deaths. Death rates are higher in countries with greater levels of poverty and less access to healthcare, such as countries in Africa, South America, and South Asia. Individuals in these regions might also not have access to essential resources like seasonal vaccines to protect their health.


Vaccination Status

The seasonal flu impact is much different for people vaccinated than those who have not received the flu vaccine. Between 2010 and 2020, the CDC estimates that around 80 percent of flu-related deaths occurred in people who were not vaccinated. This statistic shows why receiving an annual flu vaccine to protect your body against new strains is so important.


Public Health Policies

A region’s public health policies can play a significant role in annual flu deaths. Areas with stricter public health policies and access to universal healthcare are much less likely to have high flu fatalities than areas with more lenient policies and a lack of access to healthcare.


Flu Strain

The particular strain of the flu occurring during the annual flu season also contributes to higher numbers of flu-related deaths. Some strains are associated with higher death tolls than other strains, making vaccination critical to overall public health and safety.

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Public Health and Flu: Influenza Impact Year-Over-Year

The 2022-2023 flu season is moderately intense, and while flu prevention and death rates during this period aren’t as high as in some previous years, they still present a cause for concern for public health. Since 2010, annual flu deaths in the United States are estimated to have hit the following numbers:

  • 2010-2011: 37,000
  • 2011-2012: 12,000
  • 2012-2013: 43,000
  • 2013-2014: 38,000
  • 2014-2015: 51,000
  • 2015-2016: 23,000
  • 2016-2017: 38,000
  • 2017-2018: 52,000
  • 2018-2019: 27,000
  • 2019-2020: 24,000
  • 2021-2022: 4,900
  • 2022-2023: 21,000

Flu Prevention Strategies

Understanding influenza epidemiology is crucial to comprehending the seasonal flu impact – however, it’s equally important to have thorough flu prevention strategies in place to protect your health and well-being during flu season. Below are the best flu prevention strategies to practice during annual flu season:

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Get Vaccinated

The most important step to protect yourself and help lower current flu mortality rates is getting a yearly vaccination against influenza. Research from the CDC finds the following to be true about the impact of flu vaccines on public health:

  1. Flu vaccines prevent millions of flu-related illnesses and doctor’s visits annually. During the 2019-2020 season, influenza vaccinations prevented an average of 7.5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million flu-related doctor visits, 105,000 influenza-related hospitalizations, and 6,300 flu-related fatalities.
  2. During influenza season, flu vaccines reduce the risk of visiting the doctor by as much as 60 percent.
  3. For adults admitted to the hospital for the flu, vaccinated patients have up to 59 percent lower chance of being admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and a 31 percent lower risk of flu death than unvaccinated adults.
  4. During the 2019-2020 flu season, vaccinations prevented 105,000 influenza-related hospitalizations.
  5. Between the flu seasons from 2010 to 2012, vaccinations reduced children’s risk of admission to the ICU by 74 percent.


Avoid Contact With Sick People

Another vital step to preventing the spread of the flu and lowering annual flu deaths is avoiding contact with people who are sick. If you are ill with the flu, avoid contact with other people to protect public health and mitigate the spread of the flu.

Washing Your Hands

Keeping your hands clean during flu season is necessary for preventing the spread of viruses and germs. During this season, wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water.

Covering Your Mouth and Nose

Shield your nose and mouth with a tissue if you cough or sneeze. Influenza most commonly spreads through droplets released when people sneeze or cough, and taking steps to cover your mouth and nose can prevent other people from getting sick during flu season.

Learn More From Fast Lab

Fast Lab provides crucial COVID-19 testing services to help you prevent the spread of illness during and outside of flu season. Along with at-home COVID testing and services, Fast Lab provides essential resources to keep you safe and secure year-round. Explore our educational medical content today!

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