Expect a Bad Flu Season

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However, doctors insist we can not underestimate the importance of "herd immunity", and that the shot may be more effective as lessening illness in those who do get sick.

"Getting the flu is an bad experience".

Between twelve-thousand and fifty-six-thousand deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

After a slow start in October, flu season in the United States is gaining speed, particularly in the South. The Protecting Grandparents from the Flu series features the Miller family and their battle with influenza when daughter, Caroline, almost died from flu complications at the age of five.

Experts say there's still plenty of time to benefit from getting a flu vaccine, which are widely available at medical offices, pharmacies and other sites. The Centers for Disease Control recommend that all people 6 months of age and older receive an annual flu vaccine.

However, as Dr. Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, pointed out, the flu has potentially serious complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections.

"The number of flu cases is relatively high for this time of year, and public health officials are concerned there will be a high risk of spreading the flu during the holiday season".

Added to that uncertainty is the question of how effective this season's vaccine may be in preventing people from getting the flu.

Fortunately, no other deaths have been reported in connection with the flu.

"They had quite a substantial epidemic due to H3N2, so there's a lot of speculation that that's foreboding a severe season for us also", she said from Vancouver.

Among health care workers who declined the vaccine, the most common reason is fear of experiencing side effects or getting sick from the vaccine. Influenza antiviral drugs may also be indicated as a prevention measure to protect those who have just been exposed to someone diagnosed with influenza and are especially vulnerable. Children, pregnant women, and those 65 and older are at particular risk, as are those with chronic lung conditions.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, said that vaccine effectiveness is not a simple measure. Qualifying children and adolescents can receive flu vaccine provided by the Texas Vaccines for Children program.

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