Monday, December 13, 2010

Flu Season Getting Underway

The 2010-2011 flu season has been underway for a couple of weeks, but now's a good time to remember to get your influenza vaccines. Not only does this provide protection to yourself, but it reduces the chances of influenza spreading to those you come in contact with, including the elderly, infirm, and young who are most susceptible to the disease and complications that can result in hospitalization and even death.

Large parts of the US are reporting the disease sporadically, but they will become more regionalized in coming weeks.

The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against three different flu viruses: an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season. Getting the flu vaccine soon after it becomes available each year is always a good idea, and the protection you get from vaccination will last throughout the flu season.

Typically, influenza kills anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 people a year in the US. The 2009 H1N1 pandemic resulted in more than 12,000 flu-related deaths in the US.

This is nothing to sneeze about; the disease causes a significant economic toll - in lost productivity and the medical costs of dealing with symptoms that sometimes mimic a cold. The vaccination is a low-cost preventative.

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