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FIGHTING THE FLU

Last year’s flu season was one of the deadliest in decades.

Est. 80,000 Americans died, including 183 children.

Is an ineffective flu vaccine to blame, a bad flu strain, or the fact that less than half of Americans got vaccinated?

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“By the time we figure out if a flu season is mild or not, the damage has been done. … Everyone should look at every season as if it will be a bad season. We want everyone to get vaccinated.”

Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams. Last year, a particularly dangerous virus strain (A H3N2) was found amongst patients testing positive for the flu. The nation had record hospitalizations rates & 80% of those who died from flu last year were unvaccinated.
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Flu Shot: What to Know

  • Three different flu viruses: A, B & C (“A” most common).
  • How they’re made: Viruses typically grown in chicken eggs (for last 70 yrs).
  • Won’t make you sick: Viruses killed, but body develops antibodies to fight flu. Any reaction is your body building resistance, not “getting flu.” Takes 2 weeks for immunity.
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Do I Really Need One?

  • It’s not a perfect science. Each flu vaccine includes several flu strains, but effectiveness can vary. Last year’s was 40% effective (vs. 45% avg. over last 7 years.)
  • So why get a flu shot then? “Some effectiveness better than none,” may make flu symptoms milder. CDC warns not getting flu shot, puts others at risk. You build immunity w/each shot.
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PERSPECTIVE:
1918 Flu Pandemic

This year marks 100 years since the worst flu pandemic in history, which infected one-third of the world’s population & 500,000 Americans.

Despite medical advancements, World Health Organization says “another pandemic caused by a new influenza is a certainty.” When or how severe it will be is unknown.

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Not A Unified Global Fight

  • Most developed countries have policies on flu immunization, but many & some of the most populous (ex: China, India, & Pakistan) do not have one.
  • Flu virus constantly mutates & flu guidance varies by country. (Ex: In U.S. & Canada, flu shot is recommended to everyone older than 6 mos, but in U.K. its targeted only to children & those over 65.)
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U.S. health officials recommend getting a flu shot by the end of October. Bonus for those afraid of needles, after two years of not recommending it, the CDC is now encouraging a flu nasal spray as an alternative to a flu shot.

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Is it a cold or the flu? It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference, but one thing to look for is how quickly it strikes. A cold may take a few days to build up, unlike the flu which typically strikes quickly. A flu also last twice as long as a cold, usually about a week.