The recent projection of a normal flu season is welcome relief from last year, when the H1N1 pandemic strain emerged, requiring a separate vaccine.
And there’s plenty of this year’s vaccine available. About 119 million doses have been distributed as of late September, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But there’s another number that’s worrisome: The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases released a survey that found 43 percent of adults do not plan to get a flu shot this year.
The excuses include the myth that merely washing hands can prevent a person from getting the flu, and that the shot can actually give a person the flu.
CDC director Tom Frieden responded recently to the dangers of influenza. “Flu is serious,’’ he said at a news conference. “ Every year millions of people get sick, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and thousands of people die from influenza.”
Kids and older Americans are especially vulnerable, but the CDC is recommending that all people over age six months should get the vaccine.
For most people, cost shouldn’t be a big problem. Many consumers with insurance can get the vaccination for free, as a new benefit under health care reform. Pharmacies are offering a shot for $20 to $30.
That cost is a lot better than missing days of work or school – plus the miserable aches and having to go through several boxes of tissue.
So find a good price, folks. Then roll up your sleeves – and your children’s, too.