Flu season is coming to an end. While the flu virus continues to spread year-round, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognize flu season as running from the beginning of October to the middle of May.
In this article, we take a look at some statistics from the 2021-2022 flu season as well as some general statistics on flu shot injury claims filed under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).
Flu Illnesses, Hospitalizations and Deaths During the 2021-2022 Flu Season
The CDC is the primary source for data on the spread of influenza and the effectiveness of the flu shot in the United States. According to the CDC’s estimates, from October 1, 2021 through May 14, 2022:
- Flu Illnesses – Between 6.7 million and 11 million people got sick with the flu.
- Medical Visits – Slightly under half of all people who got sick with the flu (3.2 million to 5.1 million) sought a medical diagnosis and treatment.
- Hospitalizations – Approximately 69,000 to 140,000 people were hospitalized due to influenza.
- Deaths – Approximately 4,200 to 13,000 people died from the flu.
These numbers are significantly lower than those from flu seasons during the pre-COVID era. For example, during the 2019-2020 flu season, the CDC estimates that 38 million people got the flu and roughly 400,000 of these individuals required hospitalization. It also estimates that there were 22,000 flu-related deaths during the 2019-2020 flu season. Flu infections in the U.S. peaked during the 2016-2017 season, when approximately 45 million people got sick with the flu according to the CDC.
The CDC did not calculate cumulative numbers for the 2020-2021 flu season “due to historically low numbers of flu.” While the CDC notes that its estimates for the 2021-2022 flu season may reflect the fact that “[i]nfluenza testing across the United States may be higher than normal because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” this season’s figures are still very low in comparison to years past.
Flu Shots Administered in the U.S.
According to the CDC, “174.7 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed in the United States as of February 25, 2022” during the 2021-2022 flu season. While this is largely consistent with the immunization rate prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC notes some statistically significant changes in flu vaccine coverage this year. For example:
- Flu vaccination coverage for children age 6 months to 17 years of age is “6.9 percentage points lower this season compared with [the] same time week ending April 11, 2020 (‘pre-pandemic’ 2019-20 season).”
- Flu vaccination coverage for pregnant persons age 18 to 49 years is “9.5 percentage points lower this season as of March 2022 compared with last season at the end of March 2021 (51.8% compared to 61.3%) and 13.7 percentage points lower this season compared with March 2020.”
- Flu vaccination coverage for Medicare beneficiaries age 65 years or older was “50.3% as of December 25, 2021 compared with 56.5% at the same time in 2020 and 53.5% in 2019.”
The CDC also reports that fewer adults have gotten their flu shots at pharmacies and medical clinics during the 2021-2022 flu season. Vaccinations at pharmacies are down by 7.3 million compared to the 2020-2021 flu season while vaccinations at medical clinics are down by 1.9 million.
Flu Shot Effectiveness (Vaccine Effectiveness (VE)) During the 2021-2022 Flu Season
The flu shot’s effectiveness during the 2021-2022 flu season has been low. According to the CDC, “interim estimates indicate that vaccination did not reduce the risk of mild or moderate illness from flu A(H3N2) viruses, which circulated most commonly during the 2021-22 flu season.” The CDC also notes that its final vaccine effectiveness (VE) data could be different, and that data on how well the flu shot protected against severe flu illness will be published later in 2022.
Based on the CDC’s interim data, the flu shot’s VE rating for the 2021-2022 flu season is just 14 to 16 percent. If the CDC’s interim data hold, this would be the lowest VE rating for the flu shot since at least 2009. The current confirmed low is 19 percent during the 2014-2015 flu season, while the confirmed high is 60 percent during the 2010-2011 flu season.
Flu Shot Injury Claims Filed Under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)
While the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) publishes annual data on the total number of claims filed and compensated, it only publishes aggregate data for individual vaccines. According to the VICP’s latest Data & Statistics report, 8,484 vaccine recipients and families have filed flu shot injury claims since the VICP’s establishment in 1988.
Of these claims, 4,825 have resulted in compensation awards while 847 have been dismissed. Many flu shot injury claims remain pending. Overall, flu shot injury claims account for more than a third of all claims filed and more than half of all claims compensated under the program.
The VICP received the third highest number of claims on record and paid more than $208 million in compensation in 2021. It is on pace to issue a record number of compensation awards in 2022. Based on the VICP’s historical data, the majority of these awards are likely to involve flu shot injury claims.
Our firm secured dozens of compensation awards for flu shot injuries during the 2021-2022 flu season. We also have many claims pending for clients who were diagnosed with flu shot injuries over the past eight months. Since the start of the 2021-2022 flu season, our clients’ compensation awards have averaged around $90,000, and we have secured several awards in excess of $100,000.
Contact Us About Filing a Flu Shot Injury Claim Under the VICP
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA), Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), or any other vaccine-related injury or illness during the 2021-2022 flu season, we encourage you to contact us for more information. To discuss filing a claim under the VICP with vaccine attorney Leah V. Durant, please call 202-800-1711 or request a free consultation online today.
Leah Durant Bio
Experienced litigation attorney Leah Durant focuses on representing clients in complex vaccine litigation matters. Leah Durant is the owner and principal attorney of the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC, a litigation firm based in Washington, DC. Leah Durant and her staff represent clients and their families who suffer from vaccine-related injuries, adverse vaccine reactions and vaccine-related deaths. The Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC is dedicated to assisting individuals in recovering the highest level of compensation as quickly and efficiently as possible. To learn more, contact vaccine attorney Leah Durant today.