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Now that we reached the fall season, the leaves have begun to change, and we need to refocus our attention on ways to stay healthy through the fall and winter months.  What better way to ward off colds this season than by obtaining a flu shot to protect you?  The pandemic last year with the H1N1 virus had everyone racing around to find a shot, and this year we have a plethora of shots.  But oddly enough, no droves of people are lining up to obtain the vaccination that is readily available this year. 

There are benefits to obtaining a shot.  First and foremost, no one enjoys being sick and all the exhaustion and drama that goes along with it.  Second, missing work can put a financial burden on your home because if you have no more sick days left from the beginning of the year.  Not to mention you could be infecting your co-workers.  Third, there will be no need to make emergency trips to the pharmacy to obtain tissues, cold/flu remedies, cough drops, Motrin or Tylenol or Advil.  This precautionary measure has the potential to save you on money on gasoline because you will not have to travel anywhere extra.

Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the flu since their immune system changes with the pregnancy, there by putting the pregnancy at risk.  In April issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the March of Dimes noted that in the United States, pregnant women constituted 5 percent of all H1N1 fatalities in 2009 despite the fact that they made up just 1 percent of the American population.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are two types of vaccines, flu shot and nasal-spray flu vaccine.

There are two types of vaccines:

  • The “flu shot” — an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions.
    Flu Shot: Vaccination Information Statement (VIS)
  • The nasal-spray flu vaccine —a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (sometimes called LAIV for “live attenuated influenza vaccine” or FluMist®). LAIV (FluMist®) is approved for use in healthy* people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.
    Nasal Spray: Vaccination Information Statement (VIS)

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.  The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against 2009 H1N1, and two other influenza viruses (an H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus).  The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on international surveillance and scientists’ estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year.  About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection develop in the body.

You can obtain the flu shot at your personal physician, local health department, local drug stores (CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens), local retail stores (Wal-Mart, Target), and other big box stores.

* “Healthy” indicates persons who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.

Some other interesting articles on the topic….

http://www.acsh.org/factsfears/newsID.2057/news_detail.asp

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/nyregion/14critic.html?_r=2&scp=2&sq=ariel&st=cse

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6A73QA20101108

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