DEERFIELD, Ill., Oct. 11, 2011 - The typical flu season always coincides with the busiest travel period of the year, and last season that spelled trouble for more than 3 million U.S. vacationers whose trips were interrupted by flu-related illness, the Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) (NASDAQ: WAG) Flu Impact Report suggests. The findings in part two of the survey examining the effects of influenza on people’s everyday lives, released today, show how the flu affected Americans’ vacations, holidays, social engagements, sporting events and more.
“The one constant when it comes to flu season is that it’s unpredictable, and flu activity can generally peak any time between October and April in the U.S.,” said Cheryl Pegus, Walgreens chief medical officer. “In addition to holidays and planned vacations, there may be other engagements and important dates that fall when flu is widely circulating. There’s no planning for an ill-timed illness, and these findings from last year’s typical flu season reinforce the importance of getting a flu shot each year.”
The flu doesn’t only result in missed work or school -- people also report having missed out on important engagements and social activities. Last flu season, based on survey projections, millions of life’s special events may have been impacted, including:
- more than 600,000 graduations missed more than 1 million weddings not attended
- more than 3 million vacations canceled or interrupted
- nearly 5 million holiday celebrations missed
- more than 5 million sporting events missed
Caring for a Spouse/Partner
Spouses and partners are evenly split on whether it’s easier to take care of oneself or the other person. In fact, when asked if they would rather have the flu or take care of a spouse/partner, the results were split 50/50. However, one-third of women surveyed think their spouse is very annoying or “a nightmare” when sick, while only 14 percent of men feel the same way.
The Worst Flu-Like Symptoms
Body aches and muscle pain, as well as headache and fatigue, are the most common symptoms associated with flu and can be distressing to sick patients. There are, however, many other symptoms that are possible, especially among children. Of all the possible flu-like symptoms, it is the vomiting (65 percent) and diarrhea (51 percent) people dread the most, although they occur less frequently. Sore throat and fever/chills ranked a distant third and fourth, respectively.
“These severe symptoms that can last many days and require physician and hospital visits can be very serious, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continually stresses flu prevention and recommends flu shots for everyone over the age of six months,” Pegus said.
According to the CDC, on average 13 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu every year, with active flu seasons seeing closer to 20 percent, or more than 62 million Americans.
The Walgreens survey was fielded Sept. 1-8, 2011, to a Vision Critical Springboard America panel to a nationally representative sample of 1,200 Americans age 18 or over. Flu Impact Report results were weighted on key demographics to allow projection of results to the entire U.S. adult population. Results are based on self-reported instances of the flu and flu-like symptoms. Projections incorporate the latest data available for average compensation and hours worked from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, population data and projections from the United States Census and compared against beta Flu Work Loss models developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) is the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2011 sales of $72 billion. The company operates 7,779 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.