(HealthDay News) – About 17% of adverse health outcomes associated with influenza were prevented in the most recent flu season, with a greater number of serious outcomes averted compared with previous flu seasons, according to a report published in the Dec. 13 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Joseph Bresee, MD, from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues estimated the impact of vaccination for the 2012–2013 flu season using surveillance data, vaccination coverage survey data, and vaccine effectiveness estimates.

The researchers found that, from October 2012–May 2013, influenza vaccination was estimated to result in 6.6 million fewer illnesses, 3.2 million fewer medically attended illnesses, and 79,260 fewer hospitalizations. Overall, adverse health outcomes associated with influenza were reduced by 17.3%. While children 6 months to 4 years of age and people ≥65 years (the two highest risk groups) accounted for 29% of averted illnesses and 39% of averted medically attended illnesses, they accounted for 69% of averted hospitalizations.

“In this setting of a relatively high burden of severe disease, a 17% overall reduction in severe health outcomes resulted in a large number of prevented hospitalizations and medical visits for influenza that exceeded estimates of annual serious outcomes averted during influenza seasons from 2006–2011,” Bresee and colleagues conclude.

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