It’s Flu Shot Time Again
There no shortage of flu shots in stock this year, and health officials encouraged Americans on Thursday last to make a date and get vaccinated — if not for the sake of their own healthy winter, then for the general health of their neighborhoods.
Around 85 million units of the latest flu vaccine have been put in place around the country and this is big part of the total of 135 million doses that will be working for America this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Influenza is predictably unpredictable,” according to the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, who described this year’s program at a news conference in Washington hosted by the National Foundation for Infectious Disease. He went on to say:
“In 2009-2010, we had a pandemic with thousands hospitalized and many deaths. Last year, we set a record for the lowest number of hospitalizations and the shortest influenza season.”
In spite of last year’s relatively low-level flu season, 34 children died from this cause. The CDC recommends flu vaccines for every person over half a year old. Part of the reason last year was relatively ‘good’, was that the most common flu strains were not mutated but similar to those of the year before. But the health department briefing reminded everyone that, “Even mild seasons can lead to suffering and death. People cannot become complacent this season. When it comes to the flu, we cannot look to the past to predict what will happen this season.”
Yet most Americans choose to skip the flu shot. Forty-two percent of Americans got a flu shot last year, about the same rate as the year before, according to the CDC. And the older we get the less mindful are we of the need to vaccinate. three-quarters of young ones aged up to 2 years got the flu jab, but only 1 in 4 adults and even fewer teenagers between 13 and 17 had themselves proofed against the nasty illness. Almost half of all expectant mothers chose to be vaccinated. All these figure are well down on what the CDC would like to see happening. Flu shots are safe in each trimester of pregnancy. The antibodies built up in the mother enter the unborn child and also protect them for the first 6 months after birth.
Every year between 5 and 20 per cent of Americans suffer influenza and over 200 thousand of them are serious enough to require hospitalization. Even health care workers, who should know better, do not take up the flu shots as much as they should. Only 1 in 7 had the vaccination last year.
[box type="note"]Doctors did slightly better with only just over 1 in 10 NOT getting vaccinated. On the bright side the trend of take up is on the up. In ‘02 fewer than 4 in 10 health care workers were vaccinated. Gradually it seems the myths about flu shots actually causing flu are being dispelled. It helps when hospitals require compliance.[/box]