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Getting the flu vaccine

12/03/04

A shortage of the flu vaccine isnít news anymore, though hopefully in a couple of months, it will be history.  At this time, most medical centers seem to be holding up their end of the deal, only making this yearís I available to a select few who qualify as ďat-riskĒ.

A shortage of the vaccine occurred when a British lab closed down a few months ago.  This left approximately 50% of the demand for the flu vaccine not met, and has since resulted in government requirements to limit the number of doses to those who are at the most risk. 

With well over 30,000 deaths from the flu last year alone, it is the very young, the very old, and those who are at health risk who are generally able to receive it.  

Aside from the age criteria, there are other things that can cause you to be classified as ďat-riskĒ including heart disease, autoimmune deficiencies, or some other chronic illness where a bout with the flu may mean a higher risk of death.

Not at-risk flu vaccine recipients

That however, is not the full extent of those who may qualify under the flu vaccine program though most may not note the exceptions.  Many others can and are getting this yearís flu vaccine because of what they do or who they live with. 

First are workers in the medical field who are in direct contact with patients.  This might also include direct care staff in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  These are not necessarily at any greater risk than the general population.  But because they are working with patient after patient, and often those people who are at risk, the idea is to give them the flu shot to help minimized the potential risk of spreading the flu to their patients.

The second category of not-at-risk people who can receive the shot are caregivers who have at risk people living with them.  This would not apply if senior parents live in a separate house, even though you may be the sole caregiver.  You are only eligible to receive the flu shot if the at-risk person lives with you.

Pneumonia vaccine

Because the flu shot is getting so much press, people are often forgetting about the other critical vaccine for seniors, the pneumonia vaccine.  This vaccine is not in short supply and though it is meant to inoculate you against pneumonia, it may also have a marginal effect on the severity of how sick you get if you get the flu. 

It is recommended that you get the flu vaccine as soon as you can.  But in the meantime, if you arenít able to get that particular vaccine, be sure to at least protect yourself as much as possible with the pneumonia vaccine.

More >>> The flu and common sense

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