The Powers-That-Be, including the CDC and the mainstream media, are using these estimates to promote the flu shot for the upcoming flu season.
Keep in mind, the 80,000 deaths and 900,000 hospitalizations are ESTIMATES. And, I can state, with authority, that they are very poor estimates.
You see, deaths from flu are always estimates because if the Powers-That-Be reported the true numbers of deaths from actual influenza infections, the numbers would be much lower and people would not be so inclined to receive a flu shot.
How does the CDC overestimate the number of flu deaths? The CDC accomplishes this by reporting a combined pneumonia and influenza death rate. Every time I try to analyze this data, I know I will have to spend at least an hour searching for the true number who died from influenza because the CDC tries to hide that data.
Dissolving Illusions: ... Best Price: $38.50 Buy New $21.60 (as of 11:00 UTC - Details) Why does the CDC do this? The answer is easy: The more people that receive the flu vaccine, the more money the CDC makes. You see, the CDC holds patents on many vaccines including the flu vaccine. (1)
Perhaps I could tolerate the CDC combining pneumonia with flu deaths IF the flu vaccine prevented both. However, the flu vaccine has never been shown to have any impact on the number of deaths from pneumonia.
In fact, for the vast majority who receive it, the flu vaccine has little impact on preventing the flu, but I digress.
In 2001 the CDC reported that 62,034 died from influenza and pneumonia. That year, I would bet that CDC proclaimed that flu killed over 50,000 Americans. After a painful hour of searching the CDCs database, I found the true 2001 numbers: 257 died from influenza and 61,777 died from pneumonia. Keep in mind, any death from the flu is tragic, but those numbers are out of a population of over 300 million. In 2010 (the latest year data are available) there were 55,227 deaths due to pneumonia and flu. Flu killed 4,605 while pneumonia killed the rest. (2)