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Save yourself: get the flu shot

Caroline Christophersen, News Editor

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October is here, and soon the flu will be too. Last flu season brought the highest death toll in 40 years. Eighty thousand Americans, including 180 children, died from the flu and its complications. Normally, the death toll is around 10,000 to 50,000. Last year’s severity was accentuated because the flu shot was not as effective against the predominant strain, H3N2, after its mutations.

Doctors are frustrated with the recent death tolls as the flu is preventable. Getting the vaccine reduces illness by 40-60%. Those who have been vaccinated experience less symptoms and are less often hospitalized than those who face the illness unvaccinated. Getting the vaccine also reduces the opportunities for the virus to mutate into new strains that cannot be predicted or protected against by the vaccine.

Getting vaccinated is how a people protect those who can not vaccinate themselves such as babies, the elderly, and those with chronic diseases. These groups are more susceptible to the flu due to weakened immune systems and are instead protected by herd immunity.

Herd immunity is developed when a high percentage of the community protects themselves through vaccination and therefore the disease can not spread to those unvaccinated since there are so few susceptible people left to infect. At a news conference, Surgeon General Jerome Adams commented, “That herd immunity is so, so very important. That community immunity is what we want to take home today; 80,000 deaths last year and they all got the flu from someone else.” Each person counts to stop the spread of the flu. Of the 180 children who died, he later said, “The majority of them were unvaccinated.” Reports from the Center for Disease and Control Prevention said 80% of the kids who died were unvaccinated.

Flu season runs from November through March. Since it takes two weeks after vaccination for the immune system to develop antibodies to protect against the influenza virus, now is the perfect time to get immunized.Walgreens provides a zero copay flu shot with most insurances! Although they provide shots without appointments, click here to skip any line and schedule your flu shot at a local Walgreens. Or, head to the Hyvee pharmacy and get 20 cents off per gallon when you get vaccinated. Your pediatrician can also provide a shot during a visit. Make wellness a priority and head in to a local pharmacy or doctor office to protect yourself and the community.

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Save yourself: get the flu shot