If you haven’t done so already, go get your flu shot. You may be tempted not to. This year’s shot apparently is not quite as effective as last year’s was, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year’s vaccine was about 39 percent effective.
So why bother with a shot that may actually prevent flu in only about a third of those who receive the vaccine? Because, CDC says, even a flu vaccine that doesn’t outright protect one against a specific strain of flu likely will ease symptoms caused by another strain.
And flu is a killer. While a lack of reporting requirements makes getting completely accurate numbers difficult, CDC reports that thousands of Americans die of flu-related illnesses each year. In the 2013-14 flu season, a particularly bad year, deaths reached 56,000.
Among those most at risk are children under the age of 5 and adults 65 and older. Others with health problems, including heart disease and asthma, also are in danger. The CDC has a complete list of the especially vulnerable at www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high _risk.htm.
Oregonians are lucky. Most Oregonians are covered by some form of health insurance, and that means they are not likely to bear much if any cost for a flu shot. Shots are available at most pharmacies on a walk-in basis.
This week all of the St. Charles Health System hospitals are at capacity, thanks to the flu. Don’t add to their burden. Get that shot today.