The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 3, 2012

Get a shot, avoid the flu

Sickness claims tens of thousands annually


The Tribune-Democrat

— While area physicians might disagree over the best time of the fall season to get flu shots, nearly all recommend getting vaccinated.

We urge our readers, male or female, young or old, frail or healthy, to get a flu shot or FluMist.

The only ones who shouldn’t get vaccinated, health officials say, are babies younger than 6 months old and people with severe allergies to the eggs used to make the vaccines.

Price shouldn’t be a big deal for most of us. Area medical facilities, physicians’ offices and pharmacies are generally charging $15 to $30, with insurance paying the cost in many cases.

It’s money well-spent.                                                                                                                    The sate Department of Health and county health departments also have clinics, but they are at different dates and times.

The DOH, however, says it recommends that individuals get vaccinated through their primary-care physicians or at another convenient location, such as a pharmacy.

You say you received a flu shot last year?

That’s great, but that shot won’t shield you this year: Two new strains of influenza have begun circling the globe, and the updated vaccine appears to work well against them, government officials said last week.

“Getting a flu vaccine every year is the best way to prevent influenza, which is a serious disease that can result in hospitalization or death, especially for young children or people with underlying health conditions,” says Dr. Thomas Sandora, an infection control expert and epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“Flu is very contagious and can be spread from one person to another even before symptoms develop, so having a high proportion of people vaccinated is important to help limit transmission of the virus during flu season.”

Influenza kills tens of thousands of Americans annually.

In addition, every year in the United States, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications – including 20,000 children under the age of 5.

That’s a lot of people being infected.

Unfortunately, in 2011, only 52 percent of children and just 39 percent of adults nationwide were immunized.

The good news was, last year was the mildest flu season on record.

 Influenza seasons are  unpredictable, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and can begin as early as October.

“Simply put, vaccination is the best protection we have against the flu. A flu vaccine can reduce your risk of illness, hospitalization, or even death – and can prevent you from spreading the virus to your families, friends and co-workers,” said Dr. Howard K. Koh, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Sounds like some pretty sound reasons for getting a shot.

Don’t you think?

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