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This Year's Flu Season: Good News and Bad News

By paulabernstein |

flu shotThe good news is that getting a flu shot will be easier than it was last year when the swine flu pandemic peaked before the vaccine was widely available.

About 30 million doses are already available through doctors’ offices, pharmacies and other retailers. That’s the first of a total of 165 million flu vaccine doses which are being shipped to the United States, according to USA Today.

The even better news it that thanks to the federal Affordable Care Act, this is the first time that Medicare and private health insurance companies are offering flu vaccine without co-pays or deductibles. Under the federal Vaccines for Children program, even uninsured children are covered for flu shots.

So you ready for the bad news?

Three strains of flu have begun to spread in the USA, including H1N1 (swine flu) as well as H3N2, which sounds even more dangerous. About 60% of Americans are said to be susceptible to swine flu (that number includes pretty much everyone who didn’t get it last year and wasn’t vaccinated against it).

Although flu variety H3N2 hasn’t hit the U.S. in large numbers yet, it is often linked to serious disease and death. Luckily, this year’s seasonal flu vaccine protects against H3N2.

“We are recommending that when you see vaccine, get vaccinated,” said Ann Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “You don’t have to worry, if you get vaccinated now, that you’ll need another shot in January.”

USA Today tells the story of Navy surgeon Henry Lin of Bethesda, Md., who became a crusader for flu shots after his 7-year-old son Trevor died of swine flu last year when the flu vaccine was in short supply. Apparently, since Trevor had been otherwise healthy, the emergency room doctors didn’t prescribe Tamiflu, which they reserved for patients deemed high-risk.

I didn’t get vaccinated last year and neither did my kids, but after reading Lin’s story, I think I’ll play it safe and get the vaccine for all of us.

What about you? Do you plan to get the flu shot this year for you and your kids?

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Should Bars Refuse to Serve Pregnant Women?

Photo: wikimedia/United States Department of Health and Human Services

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About paulabernstein



Paula Bernstein is a freelance writer and social media manager with a background in entertainment journalism. She is also the co-author of Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited.

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9 thoughts on “This Year's Flu Season: Good News and Bad News

  1. Jenny says:

    We got the H1N1 (all but my daughter, she never did catch it) last year before the vaccine ever came to our area. My kids get the regular flu shot every year though, so this year that won’t be a worry for us. However, I’m considering getting the shot myself since I’m now going to college with a bunch of germy teenagers.

  2. Marilyn says:

    Paula, thanks for this blog. It reminded me to call for appointments for our flu shots.

  3. Samantha says:

    I’m still not getting the flu shot. I’ve never had one and I rarely (one or twice every 10 years) get the flu. The only one I could get is the nasal one anyway due to contradictions and I’m not 100% sure how effective that would be.

    Baby isn’t getting one since she will be under 6 months the whole winter. We’ll just do what we always do and wash our hands and keep clean.

  4. paulabernstein says:

    Samantha, you raise a good point – Babies under six months are not supposed to get the flu vaccine. Also, I’ve never gotten the flu shot (nor have my kids), but I’m re-considering this year because I’d rather be safe than sorry. I’d hate for them to come down with a nasty case of flu and know that it could have been avoided.

  5. LogicalMama says:

    The mist is just as effective as the shot. In fact, the mist doesn’t have thirmerisal. Many shot manufacturers have it in their adult shots.

  6. Manjari says:

    All 4 of us got the regular flu vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine last year, and we’ll be getting them again this year.

  7. laura says:

    An adorable, otherwise healthy five-year old died of H1N1 last year in my town. I can’t imagine the pain her family experienced. With vaccines readily available this year, I can’t imagine refusing to protect my children with a potentially life-saving shot. It blows my mind that anyone without a valid medical reason would elect not to get this shot or refuse to protect their vulnerable child with it. And not getting a vaccine because you rarely get sick is like not wearing a seatbelt because you so rarely get in car accidents. The logic almost offends me. I only get in a wreck once or twice every ten years. Just because I drive the speed limit and follow other traffic laws, isn’t a valid reason for not using a seatbelt, or god forbid, leaving my child out of her carseat. Thank you for this blog, Paula.

  8. Rebecca says:

    Last year was my first flu shot, haven’t decided about getting it again.
    As a sad aside, my mother (an OBGYN) lost a pregnant patient to swine flu last year, though this particular patient had gotten the bad a few months before. It was so incredibly sad.

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