Flu activity continues to increase across the United States. The nation is experiencing an early flu season, the earliest since 2003, with high levels of activity concentrated in the south central and southeastern regions at this time. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) urge you to get a flu vaccine now if you have not done so already this season. Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk from flu complications.
Back in October, I wrote about my trip to the doctor for a flu shot and tried to convince you to do likewise.
Now, Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter reports that the U.S. new cases of flu have gone from a few hundred a week to more than a thousand.
The CDC reports that five children have died from it.
Catching the flu is not fun. Ms. Godman reports that flu is “a highly contagious and potentially deadly respiratory disease. Some years the outbreak is relatively mild, other years it is severe. Deaths range from 3,000 a year to nearly 50,000, and about 200,000 people end up in the hospital each year. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
“The viruses that cause the flu are spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes tiny droplets into the air, and you come into contact with those droplets. You may also become infected if you touch a surface with a flu virus on it and then you touch your mouth or eyes.
“It’s easy to bump into an invisible, floating flu virus, or to get some on your hands. So getting vaccinated—and washing your hands often—are your best bets against getting flu….”
“So far this year, barely one-third of Americans have been vaccinated against the flu. Why aren’t more people getting a flu shot? Some people worry about the safety of the vaccine. Others say the flu shot makes them sick.”
Dr. Paul Sax, clinical director of the division of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said, ” Placebo studies show the vaccine doesn’t really cause the flu. And while all vaccines may rarely cause side effects, the fact that essentially all infectious disease specialists get the vaccine shows that the benefits outweigh the risks.”
Flu season doesn’t peak until January or later, so there is time for you to be vaccinated. It takes several weeks for the protection from the shot to take effect.
We have enough elements that threaten our health already without going unprotected from this well known danger. Please get a shot. Remember, by protecting yourself with the vaccination, you are also protecting your loved ones who might catch it from you.