No excuses: Get the flu shot

Published 10:10 pm Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The flu season has arrived. In past years there was a shortage of the flu vaccine, so there were limitations on who should get the shot. This year, the Centers for Disease Control is expanding its guidelines on who should get the shot.

According to Dr. Steven Lamm, a contributor to Best Life Magazine, anyone with a pulse should get it. He gave some important facts on an NBC Today Shows segment titled “Facts and Tips for the Flu Season.”

Guidelines given by the CDC on who should get the shot include the following: children 6 months to 18 years old, adults 50 and older, pregnant women, those with chronic medical conditions and those who live with or work with anyone at risk.

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Lamm’s suggestion would include those between 18 and 49. He said that the only ones who should be excluded are those who have an allergic reaction to vaccines.

Other facts and tips were as follows:

About 80 percent of the population is at risk. You can unknowingly start spreading the influenza virus to your family, children and co-workers one day before you actually become ill.

People confuse the common cold with influenza, but the vaccine will not prevent the common cold. It will prevent the influenza virus, which generally circulates in January through March but can appear as early as October.

The most important thing the vaccine will do is prevent the complications of influenza, primarily pneumonia, because 20,000 to 30,000 people die from that illness every yearly. Therefore, when you get the vaccine, you are protecting yourself, as well as others around you.

Some people think that the vaccine brings on a cold. Lamm said there is no way the vaccine can make a person sick, because it is a dead vaccine. He said that if a person got a cold after the shot, it was because of the incubation of a host of other viruses that were present in the body.

He said the nasal flu spray is recommended to those between the ages of 2 and 49, but it shouldn’t be given to pregnant women, people receiving chemotherapy or people with HIV. To those who are healthy, this spray could be slightly more effective than the shot.

The good news this year is that there is an abundance of the vaccine made available to the public in many locations and through many organizations and health care facilities. Now, it’s up to you to get it.