CDC officials say vaccinations important for flu and pneumonia disease prevention

As flu season approaches, CDC officials are emphasizing the importance of the flu vaccine, especially considering the severity of the 2017-2018 flu season.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield said an estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last winter.

The total is reportedly the disease's highest death toll in at least four decades.

Last season also had the highest rate of flu-related hospitalizations among older adults recorded since this type of surveillance began.

While vaccination remains the best way to reduce the risk of influenza and related complications and to prevent the spread of the virus, influenza vaccination rates across certain populations are substantially lower than U.S. public health goals.

As a common and often deadly complication of influenza, pneumococcal disease is a leading cause of serious illness including pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis.

It is estimated that about one million U.S. adults get pneumococcal pneumonia each year and 5 to 7 percent of them will die. Current U.S. pneumococcal vaccination rates are also below public health goals, according to the CDC.

Additionally, CDC officials say vaccines are available and are recommended for routine use in children, adults age 65 years and older, and adults age 19 to 64 years with certain risk conditions including diabetes, heart disease and lung disorders as well as people who smoke.