This time last year, the major American health concern was the outbreak of H1N1, better known as the swine flu. We’re not hearing much about it this year, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about getting that annual flu shot.
The seasonal flu kills an average of 38,000 Americans a year. Most — but not all — of those are elderly or have other medical issues that make them weaker. Flu of any kind should be treated seriously.
Flu shots are already widely available, and this year’s version protects against not just the seasonal variety, but also H1N1, which is expected to continue to spread, even though the director of the World Health Organization declared the pandemic of H1N1 to be over Aug. 10, 2010. H1N1 is estimated to have killed 18,000 people worldwide, just four percent of the average worldwide death rate from the seasonal flu.
At this time last year, the question was whether enough H1N1 vaccine could be produced, and to be fully protected people had to take the H1N1 vaccine and the vaccine for the seasonal flu.
Although the talk of flu has lessened because the H1N1 pandemic has abated, a flu shot is still a good idea, first because H1N1 is still out there, and second because the seasonal flu can be deadly. The good news is that one can get a single shot that protects against all likely flu strains, and those shots are available from medical professionals, pharmacies, and even many grocery chains.