The issue: As flu season approaches, we learn that this year’s flu strain is the same as last year’s. Why get a shot?
Our opinion: This is a new year. It’s time to get vaccinated. It’s the smart thing to do. We can already hear the arguments: “But this year’s flu vaccine is the same as last year’s so we don’t have to get the shot this year.”
How wrong you would be.
We suspect the people who delight in fostering the many myths about the flu vaccine are cut from the same piece of cloth as those who warn us not wear our seat belts you know the rest: in case we’re in a fiery crash and need to escape in a hurry.
We’ll let some local experts have their day on this one.
“One shot is good enough for one flu season, but there is some evidence – depending on who it is and how substantial their immune system is – that a vaccine might not be effective beyond one flu season,” said Dr. Kenneth J. DeBenedictis, Reading Hospital director of epidemiology, infection control and prevention, in a Reading Eagle story. “In some individuals, their immunity will wane.”
Flu season in Berks County typically ramps up in December and winds down by March, agreed DeBenedictis and Dr. Robert S. Jones, chief of infectious diseases at both St. Joseph Medical Center and Reading Hospital.
It’s a safe vaccine and it is recommended that anyone older than 6 months get it, DeBenedictis said.
Pregnant mothers who are inoculated are also giving the vaccine to their unborn children, he said.
That’s important because flu can be a serious crisis for a newborn, he said.
Here’s another reason to get the vaccine.
A study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reinforces what many experts already knew: that vaccinating preschool-age children is in their best interest.
According to The New York Times, the U.S. began recommending influenza vaccinations for preschoolers in 2006 and for all children 6 months and older in 2008. But Canada did not require preschoolers to be vaccinated.
The Times reported: “scientists found that after 2006, the rate of emergency room visits for 2- to 4-year-olds was 34 percent lower in Boston than in Montreal. Moreover, emergency room visits by 5- to 18-year-olds were 18 percent lower in Boston, probably because vaccination of preschoolers reduced the likelihood of transmission of flu to older siblings and because the policy raises vaccination awareness among the parents of older children as well.”
Now that autumn is here, it’s time to think about putting screen doors away, planting chrysanthemums and getting the warm coats out of mothballs.
While you’re at it, think about flu shots for the whole family – except infants under 6 months old, of course.
Just as there’s no reason not to wear your seat belt, there’s no reason not to get your flu shot.