Flu Season

In the U.S., this year’s influenza strains have already killed more than 8,200 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control, including at least 54 children. And while scientists have yet to find a vaccine against the coronavirus, the same is not true of the flu.

The latest coronavirus to take hold in China has killed more than 100 to date and prompted the Chinese government to attempt to isolate more than 50 million of its people in an attempt to stop its spread.

In the U.S., meanwhile, this year’s influenza strains have already killed more than 8,200 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control, including at least 54 children. And while scientists have yet to find a vaccine against the coronavirus, the same is not true of the flu.

Problem is, too few Americans are actually getting the flu shots that, while not 100% effective, are well worth the poke in the arm. That’s because an immunization’s rate of effectiveness measures only how many cases of a specific disease it actually prevents. Thus, three doses of the polio vaccine are 99% to 100% effective, according to CDC, while two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine are well over 90% effective against measles and rubella, and about 88% effective against mumps.

Flu shots are less effective at preventing the disease altogether. Flu mutates quickly, and one year’s flu may be nothing like what was going around a year earlier.

But even if this year’s flu shot doesn’t precisely target this year’s flu, it’s still worthwhile. A mismatched flu shot can work to keep an individual from getting as sick as he or she would have had they gotten no flu shot at all.

Yet, most American adults fail to get their annual flu shots, even though they’re generally free, part of required preventative coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Fewer than 50% of adults in this country have had their flu shots, and while more children — about 62%— have been vaccinated, that still leaves millions with no protection at all.

Flu shots are still available in Eastern Oregon at doctor’s offices, pharmacies and at county public health clinics. Their cost is covered by private insurance, Medicare and the Oregon Health Plan. If you’ve skipped this particular part of your health routine until now, don’t put it off any longer.

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