Flu Vaccinations Are Up, But Not Enough

    September 26, 2013

While the days are getting a little shorter and cooler, there’s something lurking around the corner that takes away from the fall bliss–flu season. Flu shots are now available at many medical offices and pharmacies, and during a news conference today, an official from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that while flu vaccinations are up, it’s not enough.

“Our message today is simple. Everyone 6 months of age and older should receive a flu vaccination,” said Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Koh said that the past flu season was one of the worst ever, with 164 pediatric deaths recorded.

Every year an estimated 5 to 20 percent of Americans come down with the flu, which leads to 200,000 hospitalizations, including 20,000 hospitalizations in children under 5 years of age. Getting the flu vaccine doesn’t guarantee absolute protection from getting the virus, as it is only around 56 percent effective overall, but it is said that the vaccine can decrease the severity and duration of the flu if you do get it. For example, a study from the 2010-2011 flu season showed that getting the flu vaccine decreased the chances of being hospitalized for older adults.

If you’re planning to hold off on getting your flu shot until the lines die down a little, the doctors at the news conference this morning strongly advise against doing so. “Last year it came early and it came hard and we’d like to get as many people vaccinated as possible before that,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general for the CDC. “You don’t want to have to have a member of your family die or lose a patient from this disease to get the message that it can be serious.”

Some people are against getting flu shots because of the ingredients that are in the vaccine and the possible side effects. Mercury and formaldehyde are among the ingredients listed in the 2013-2014 flu vaccine, according to the FDA. Are you getting a flu shot? Respond below.

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