Your Healthy Family: 2018 is the 100 year anniversary of Spanish flu pandemic that claimed over 20 million lives worldwide

9:38 AM, Oct 02, 2018

COLORADO SPRINGS – On the heels of a record flu season in 2017-2018, this will be the first of many stories in Your Healthy Family talking about the importance of getting your flu shot this year.

Last flu season in Colorado, 4,650 people were hospitalized for the flu or related symptoms.  In El Paso County, one child died and there was a record 489 hospitalizations – that’s more than double the number of people hospitalized in the 2009 pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As staggering as those numbers were in Colorado last year, they pale in comparison to the toll the flu took on humanity 100 years ago.

Dr. Mark Wesselman is a primary care physician with UCHealth Chapel Hills.  Dr. Wesselman says, “It’s interesting that this year is the 100th year of the severe Spanish flu pandemic when over 20 million people died around the globe.  At the time there were no vaccines or antibiotics.”

Indeed, the flu vaccine is one of the most significant changes in the world of medicine since 1918.  Dr. Wesselman says, “Vaccines have been around since 1945. The military first used it on recruits, and then it was used on the general population in the late 40’s.  Since then we have had the vaccine every year, and it gets better all the time.”

Dr. Wesselman also feels doctors have become better at tracking the flu to better develop effective vaccines.  “We are much better at monitoring the strains, so we can prepare a better vaccine year-by-year. It’s incredible the impact we have had on this world problem and the vaccine has been the significant player in that.”

If you have any questions about the flu vaccine, make sure to follow up with your doctor or pharmacist.

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