Editorial: Get your flu shot before it is too late

The bad news is that flu season is upon us and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects the worst of the outbreak

to soon be upon us. But the good news is you can still get a flu shot if you haven’t already done so. The shot is said to

be particularly effective against the particular strain of the influenza virus currently causing all the misery.

CDC’s influenza statistics for the final two weeks of 2012 show that between the dates of Dec. 16-22, 6,234 Calcasieu residents

with influenza-like symptoms, with 1,846 or 29.6 percent of those people testing positively for influenza.

A week later, Dec. 23-29, 9,363 people displayed flu-like symptoms, with 2,961 or 31.6 percent of them testing positively

for influenza, making a 50 percent increase of suspected cases in one week.

Bridget Boudreaux said that this year’s flu season has been the most active she has ever seen during her three year tenure

as infection control manager for Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.

It is not uncommon for people who have received a flu shot this year to still contract the illness, Boudreaux said, although

it still stands as the best form of defense against the virus.

“Vaccines are manufactured based on

the previous flu season and changes each year based off the previous

year’s reported

illnesses. Viruses mutate each year and just because we’ve

vaccinated this year on what was most prevalent last year, doesn’t

mean those viruses haven’t switched to a different strain that

hasn’t been included in the vaccine — we’re not expecting that

to happen this year but there’s always the potential,” she said.

People are also encouraged to wash their hands frequently and avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth.

The CDC says the seasonal flu vaccine

protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be

most common

during the upcoming season. Three kinds of influenza viruses

commonly circulate among people today: influenza B viruses, influenza

A (H1N1) viruses, and influenza A (H3N2) viruses. Each year, one

flu virus of each kind is used to produce seasonal influenza

vaccine.

About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against the influenza viruses in the vaccine develop

in the body.

While the flu shot may not be 100

percent effective, it greatly enhances your chances of avoiding getting

sick with the flu.

Since this year’s flu shot is reportedly a good match for this

year’s virus and the flu season has not even reached it peak

yet, don’t delay any further in getting your flu shot if you

haven’t already done so.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney,

Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.