Massachusetts Influenza (Flu) and Pneumonia Death Statistics
Influenza and pneumonia rank among the most deadly illnesses in the United States. Influenza—the flu—is caused by a virus, with symptoms including coughing, fatigue, and fever.
While the flu is not typically fatal, it is highly contagious and can be deadly to children, seniors, and other vulnerable populations in Massachusetts. Pneumonia, a serious condition in which the lungs fill with fluid, commonly results from a flu infection.
The most effective way for Massachusetts residents to avoid the flu is to get vaccinated before flu season every year. In addition to getting a flu shot, there are many habits that can help prevent the flu and similar illnesses. Some of these health habits include: avoid close contact with someone who is sick, cover your mouth and nose, and clean your hands.
Flu and Pneumonia Death Trends by Massachusetts
On the national scale, influenza and pneumonia deaths gradually decreased between 1999 and 2017. The severity of the flu varies depending on the person, the flu season, and the flu virus active that year. The most at-risk populations include seniors and young children as their immune systems are more likely to be compromised. Serious cases of the flu can result in hospitalizations. Even more serious cases result in death.
The term "influenza-like illness" (ILI) considers the flu along with other illnesses, such as pneumonia, that cause similar symptoms, notably fever, dry cough, nausea, body aches, and nausea. The chart above shows how the age-adjusted death rate from ILIs in Massachusetts compares over time to the rest of the nation.
Demographics Differences in Massachusetts Deaths from ILIs
Nationally, men are more likely to die from ILIs than women. In 2017, 16.5 men per 100,000 died from ILI's; for women, the rate was 12.7 per 100,000. Certain populations of women are more susceptible to the flu than men, such as pregnant women or women up to two weeks postpartum.
Both men and women have experienced declines in ILI death rates. In 1999, 28.5 per 100,000 men died of ILIs; for women, the rate in 1999 was 20.6 per 100,000 women.
Deaths from ILIs affects races at slightly different rates. Nationally, African Americans had the highest rate of ILI mortality in 2017.
Racial disparities in deaths from ILI come about as a result of a variety of factors. People of color tend to be poorer, and may thus be more likely to lack sufficient access to effective medical care and flu shots. Data from the CDC on the 2012-2013 flu season showed white people received the most flu shots at 44.6 percent. African Americans had the lowest at 35.6 percent.
Note: Data for specific race groups may not be available because there is often not enough mortality data for the CDC to report a reliable rate.
Seniors are the age group most at risk from influenza and pneumonia. The older people are, the more likely they are to die from these illnesses. (The death rate for younger age groups is too small to be reliably calculated in most states.)
• Flu Symptoms & Complications, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018.
• Pregnant Women & Influenza (Flu), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017.
• Flu Vaccination Coverage, United States, 2012-13 Influenza Season, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017.
This CDC video helps inform practitioners how to best recommend flu vaccines to their patients.
About the Data
Mortality data in this story was queried from the CDC Wonder API, based on the following parameters:
• UCD code: [C00-C97].
The charts show the CDC's age-adjusted rate, rather than crude rate, to account for variations in age-distribution and population size—with the exception of the chart comparing deaths by age.