I never gave a second thought to the flu or prophylactic vaccines until that one day the symptoms hit like a sledge hammer. I was in the middle of a counseling session, when my joints spontaneously began hurting. All of a sudden, I started to feel so weak that I couldn’t believe it, and got a bit frightened. I had to tell my client “I’m so sorry – I’m not feeling well. We’ll have to finish this session some other time.”
I then called my husband to come and get me. By the time I got home, the total body pain was so great I could barely tolerate getting my street clothes off and my p.j.’s on. After that experience, I started getting my flu shots every year, and never had a recurrence.
Well, I’m here to nag you! The flu-shot season has officially begun, and according to Dr. William Schaffner, President-elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, “People should start getting vaccinated now…yesterday, actually.”
There’s an ample supply of vaccine this year – somewhere between 143 to 146 million doses (more than ever before manufactured). As you probably remember, last year’s vaccine was somewhat inadequate, because a surprise new influenza strain emerged. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has checked around the world where the flu virus is already circulating, however, and has found that this year’s vaccine is a good match.
For those of you who are stubborn about getting these shots, you should know that flu hospitalizes about 200,000 people a year, and kills about 36,000.
You have a choice in vaccines. The old fashioned flu shot is good for all ages, and the nasal vaccine FluMist can be used in healthy people aged 2 to 49.
The CDC says that 261 million Americans qualify for the shot. For the first time, the CDC is recommending that every child, age 6 months to 18 years, be inoculated, unless they have a serious egg allergy. Any child under 9 years of age who is being vaccinated for the first time will need two doses, a month apart. A single dose suffices for everyone else.
There are scads of local places to get flu shots, and you can find out where at www.findaflushot.com.