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Flu Shot Season for CA – What’s the Point?

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October 8, 2007

Flu season officially kicks off this month, which will send an estimated 200,000 sufferers to the hospital, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, flu vaccine shortages in previous years are being blamed for the reluctance of Californians between ages 50 and 64 to roll up a sleeve.

Christina Clem with AARP California says, while plenty of vaccine is available this year, people at high-risk for life-threatening complications are still skipping shots -- just as they were a couple of years ago, in order to allow others the protection.

"For them, it became this assumption that, 'Oh, it's not for me, there's someone else there who needs it.'"

Clem says with plenty of shots available this year, caregivers need to put flu-shot protection on their priority list. She says many Baby Boomers have a big responsibility to stay healthy to care for their parents, and not expose them to illness.

"While most people go through it fine in five days of feeling really crummy, it really can be a very serious thing."

An AARP study finds that only about one-third of people ages 50 to 64 have been getting flu vaccinations, even though they're considered part of the high-risk population. Rates are even lower for African Americans and Hispanics. New research shows vaccination can lower the risk of death by 48 percent. Flu shot critics say the vaccine contains heavy metals and other substances that can be dangerous to some people.

More information is available online, at http://www.aarp.org. The vaccination and death risk study is in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. It followed subjects 50 years old and above in the Portland, Oregon, area for ten years.

Deborah Smith/John Robinson, Public News Service - CA