Each year, the joys of the holiday season give way to the dread of the flu season. Here we are again.
Of all the infectious diseases you can think of, the flu doesnt seem all that scary. Just about everybody has had it at one time or another. The majority of us live to tell the horror stories. Its not nearly as exotic as say, the Ebola virus, which kills almost everybody who gets it; tuberculosis, which continuously threatens to become immune to all treatments; or German measles, which can cause birth defects.
If you get it, the flu will make you feel lousy. Thats bad enough. But if you spread it to a friend, neighbor or colleague who is fighting cancer, arthritis, asthma, diabetes or kidney disease, or someone whos had a transplant, it can be a killer. Nearly 30 people in Indiana have died from it this flu season, making it the worst outbreak in several years. Its so serious that hospitals are now imposing restrictions on who can visit.
Vaccination is the best weapon. Japan mandated flu vaccine for schoolchildren from 1962 -87. Nearly 40,000 deaths a year were prevented. After the vaccination of schoolchildren was stopped, deaths from flu in Japan rose. So get vaccinated. Its not too late.
This years flu vaccine is about 60 percent effective, which is to say its pretty effective. Statins dont reduce death from heart disease by that much. Even seat belts dont reduce crash-related injuries by 60 percent.
The flu vaccine is recommended for just about everyone older than 6 months.
And, if you must, do what Im doing: spread the word and tell your neighbors and friends to get a flu shot if they havent already. Stay healthy and take heart. Soon enough the flu season will give way to spring.