With around 36,000 Americans dying from flu every year it makes sense to get your flu shot, especially if you are over 65.
Seniors are much more vulnerable than the rest of the adult population and Medicare normally covers the cost with no co-pay or deductable. This means that seniors can take care of their health without having to cut back on other essentials. With this year's shot including the 'swine flu' H1N1 virus, you can be reassured that you will be protected from the most deadly flu strains. This is especially important when you consider that as of mid December 2010, 10 people have already died of 'swine flu' in the United Kingdom, and health experts are predicting another epidemic.
At Risk Groups
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists pregnant women should get flu shots. Research published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, shows that flu shots not only protect women from getting the flu but also help protect their unborn babies. Young babies are also at risk, but as they can't receive a vaccination until they are over 6 months, the best way to protect them is for their mothers to have a flu shot while they are still pregnant. Other at-risk groups include individuals with weakened immune systems, and patients with diabetes and heart, lung or kidney problems.
Shots For All
The US government via the CDC now recommends that everyone gets a flu shot, unlike in previous years where only high-risk groups were advised to get the shot. And if you don't like needles, for most people there is the option of using a nasal spray instead. Even if you had the H1N1 flu last year, which offers some immunity against this year's 'swine flu' virus, health officials still recommend that you get the flu shot to protect you against other seasonal flu viruses doing the rounds. It takes about two weeks for the shot to take effect. It's therefore still worth having the flu shot in December or January as for the last 30 years February has been the peak month for the flu in America.
Every year the formula of the vaccine changes to allow for the variation in the viruses themselves, which is why it is important to get an annual shot. The combination also depends on which particular strains of the viruses are anticipated in any one year. For the 2010/11 season the virus combination in the shot will include the H1N1 strain, the Perth H3N2, and the B Brisbane virus. This means that unlike in previous years you will only need the one shot to be covered. However, children under 8 may need two shots to be covered, depending on which shots they got in 2009/10.
Flu shots are offered nationwide by a variety of pharmacies like Rite Aid and Walgreens as well as at your doctor's office. As well as being able to bill your health insurance company directly, you can pay cash over the counter starting at $30.