Thursday, November 23, 2017
Letters To The Editor

Be prepared: A flu shot could help save your life

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Are you ready for flu season?

The flu season is coming. Trackers have noticed serious disease making its way from Australia to the United States. The strain remains H3N2, which caused serious illness last year.

Predictions are always difficult, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months and older get their appropriate flu vaccine. Influenza and pneumonia remain the United States' No. 8 killer. More than 200,000 are hospitalized each year, and approximately 40,000 will die from the complications. Many more carry the virus but are symptom free.

The vaccine not only protects the recipient but also those around him or her. The elderly and those with other medical problems are at greatest risk for serious flu illness. The vaccine reduces the severity of illness as well as the potential for hospitalization for those who may get sick. This is true for children and the elderly. The vaccine helps protect women during and after pregnancy. Unvaccinated health professionals place patients at risk and should receive this vaccine as soon as it is available.

Determining the constituents in the vaccine each year is a very exacting science. Every effort is made to tailor it to the major strains affecting residents. Studies show significant effectiveness in reducing serious illness and hospitalization. People with asthma, COPD, heart disease or kidney, liver and metabolic disorders are at particular risk.

There are individuals who will not qualify for the vaccine due to certain medical conditions. They are protected by what is called "herd" immunity. The vaccinated reduce the risk of disease for those who are not vaccinated.

The CDC suggests a serious flu season this year and stresses the importance of protection. Check with your physician, or another health care provider, to determine your status to receive the vaccine. Sadly, last year only 47 percent of the population was vaccine-protected. Other vaccines may be recommended to protect your family's health by your health care provider or personal physician. Try not to face flu season unprotected. The vaccine may save your life.

Dr. Marc Yacht, Pasco County Medical Society

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