Flu shot or not?

A U.S. Army soldier administers a flu shot last month at an Army base in Wiesbaden, Germany. (Photo by Flickr user USACE Europe District/used under Creative Commons license)

A U.S. Army soldier administers a flu shot last month at an Army base in Wiesbaden, Germany. (Photo by Flickr user USACE Europe District/used under Creative Commons license)

The flu has arrived. Although last winter’s flu season was a relatively mild one, this year may be worse. The big swine flu scare of 2009, with its media-fueled fear frenzy that made it a popular topic of cocktail party conversation, seems all too recent, and any kind of influenza — with its severe discomforts and risks of complications — can happen to any of us.

FirstCare Medical in Highland reports the first two confirmed cases of flu and recommends that anyone with “flu symptoms of moderate to severe intensity see their physician, especially if they have underlying medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes.” And they say to get a flu vaccine as soon as possible. Roberta Hayes on the redhookmoms listserv (for the uninitiated, listservs are e-mail chains) reports that her young son Gavin tested positive with a nasal swab even though he had gotten the vaccine, and was prescribed Tamiflu.

Advertisement

Ways to fend off the flu remain hotly debated. Whether you look at the vaccine as quackery or a sensible precaution, it is the most commonly recommended way to prevent the flu, according to government agencies and many health professionals.

Although vaccinations can begin in early fall or as soon as it becomes commercially available, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that it is still helpful to get it now. Peak flu time is January and February, though it can occur through May. It takes the body two weeks to develop the antibodies after getting the vaccine.

Each year virus strains are examined by the CDC, along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and other agencies in the country and around the world. The three most prevalent are then combined in the vaccine. In this year’s vaccine one is from last year along with two new ones.

Post Your Thoughts