Like death and taxes, the impending onset of seasonal flu is inevitable.
Even though flu infections hit Oregon and the rest of the United States every year, health officials can predict little or nothing about the likely effects.
You will not know how bad a season is – essentially if the vaccine works – until well into the winter it takes four to six weeks. In Oregon, outbreaks are usually highest between January and March.
One thing is for sure: Health experts say it's always worth getting a flu shot.
The benefits far outweigh the costs, said Ann Thomas, health director of Oregon Health Physician.
"The side effects are very low," said Thomas. "Even if we can prevent half of the flu victims, that would be a benefit."
Annual flu shots are known to be unreliable. In some seasons, they protect many people from the flu. Others do not do it.
There are many variants of the influenza virus, each requiring a different type of vaccine. And the virus changes its shape over time, helping to overcome the body's defenses. Basically, flu shots are a well-founded guess as to what types of flu viruses will occur most often in the coming season.
A flu shot can do far more than just protect a person, Thomas said.
Babies younger than 6 months should not take pictures. That is, they can be easily infected, Thomas said, which is dangerous because infants are more likely to have serious complications than adults.
Even older people are prone to complications. In nursing homes such as nursing homes, infection can quickly spread to other residents.
The flu is transmitted by coughing, sneezing and unwashed hands. While flu is actually a year-round virus, it hits harder in the cold season. The researchers are not sure why, but a leading theory is that the virus survives better in cold, dry air.
The vast majority of outbreaks of concentrated flu in the 201
Then there are friends and family. Anyone who receives a vaccine reduces the likelihood of others becoming infected with the flu, said Paul Lewis, health consultant for the tri-border region. And, said Lewis, there's a good "selfish reason" to avoid a miserable illness.
"It's no fun," said Lewis, headache and fatigue.
If you want to protect yourself, your loved ones, and Oregonians in general, you can search the Vaccine Finder website for an appropriate location to get this shot.
– Fedor Zarkhin
fzarkhin @ oregonian .com
desk: 503-294-7674 | cell: 971-373-2905 | @fedorzarkhin
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