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Published January 10 2013

Forum editorial: An early start to flu season

What is shaping up to be a more serious influenza season than in the past couple of years is causing concern among health care professionals. The primary worry is that the level of vaccination is not what it should be to protect as many people from flu as possible. That’s always a concern, but this year it seems to be intensified because the vaccine does not provide guaranteed protection against the virulent strain of flu that is out and about this year.

And spinning off the first concern is this: Some people will not get a flu shot because they’ve heard the vaccine is not effective.

Let’s dispel that one. The vaccine is effective, especially for the most vulnerable populations. And even for those who do get infected, symptoms will likely be less severe and the chances of complications that might lead to death will be lessened.

The other myth has to do with the early timing of this season’s flu outbreak. Too late to be protected, the talk goes. Not so. Health officials have been very clear on this point. The vaccine available is good fit for the flu strain, and a flu shot is still the best defense against contracting the flu.

Reports and confirmations of flu are up, but some of the upper respiratory sickness is not flu. It can be any number of afflictions that mimic flu. Nevertheless, it’s all serious, especially for young children and for elderly persons with underlying conditions.

In other words, don’t fool around with this stuff. Get a flu shot. Do all the sanitary practices that help prevent spread of the flu. Avoid crowds. See a doctor right away if experiencing flu-like symptoms.

The flu season started early and likely the peak will last another 12 weeks. Be smart and stay healthy.


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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.