January 12

VIEW FROM AWAY: This year’s flu is no joke; get a shot

San Jose Mercury News

Health officials say it appears similar to the one that ran rampant in 2009. In the 2009-10 flu season, 284,000 people died from swine flu worldwide.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the flu is in full swing in many parts of the country. The latest CDC figures from the final week of 2013 show significant flu activity in 25 states, especially in the most populous ones such as New York, Texas and Illinois.

Classic flu symptoms include aching body, fever, headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, runny nose and extreme sneezing. But anyone who has been afflicted with this particular strain of flu knows that each of those symptoms, which may sound like a common cold, manifests in exceptionally aggressive and uncomfortable ways. And did we mention they can kill?

During the 2009 outbreak, many people did not get a flu shot because of a shortage of vaccine. But vaccine is plentiful this year, and it’s available not only at hospitals and clinics but at many pharmacies and even grocery stores. There is no good reason not to get a shot.

At particular risk are older adults, children under 5 and anyone who has heart or lung disease, diabetes, asthma or who may be pregnant.

The CDC advises everyone to get a flu shot each year and take additional preventive action by washing hands and avoiding contact with sick people. But it’s important to know the signs of the flu and treat them immediately. See a doctor and take all the medication prescribed.

And don’t even think about treating this flu as something to “power through.” It is neither heroic nor admirable to show up at work or school with it. It is stupid for you and inconsiderate of others.

This is all common sense, but it’s amazing how widely it’s ignored from year to year. So we’re trying again. Get a shot.

Editorial by the San Jose Mercury News

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