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Integrative Medicine: How Much Do You Know about the Flu?

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By Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden

True or false: The flu shot doesn’t work half of the time. False. The flu shot actually works more than half of the time. According to the CDC, the flu shot appeared to be about 60 percent effective for all age groups combined in the 2010-11 season. In earlier years the effectiveness rates have been as high as 90 percent.

True or false: Getting the flu is no big deal. False. The flu can cause significant death and illness. Over the last 30 years, the flu has been linked to anywhere from 3,000 to as many as 49,000 fatalities a year in the United States, with more than 200,000 hospitalizations a year. Flu is a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults and people with certain chronic health conditions such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes.

True or false: You should get the flu shot in the winter, not the fall. False. You should get the flu shot earlier in the year, and most clinics start offering the flu shot in October. That’s because once you get the vaccine, the protection lasts an entire flu season. The CDC recommends that all people older than 6 months get a flu vaccine.

True or false: You don’t need a flu shot this year if you had one last year. False. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for people 6 months and older. The reason is that a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so a yearly vaccination is needed.

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