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It's that time of year again!

As relentless as the change of seasons, the flu bug will again take its toll through the fall and winter. Typically, more than 20,000 may die from the influenza virus, most of them over 65-yet 75 percent of these elderly victims would live if they would become vaccinated.

Flu vaccination is also recommended for such high-risk individuals as those in nursing homes or similar facilities, those with chronic diseases, and those who care for such patients. Although flu is highly contagious, the vaccine is innocuous (usually nothing more than a little soreness around the injection site). Therefore, persons who have regular contact with the public, such as teachers and airline personnel, should probably also be vaccinated.

The real killer, however, is another old-timer-pneumococcal pneumonia, which often invades lungs weakened by influenza, the most common form of bacterial pneumonia. More than 10 percent of the half-million Americans who contract the flu each year die of it. Nevertheless, a one-time vaccine (as compared to the need for yearly flu vaccinations) would prevent 60 percent of these deaths.

While we're on the subject of vaccination, all adults should maintain protection against tetanus and diphtheria with a booster every 10 years. Moreover, adults who have never had measles (rubeola), but were vaccinated before 1980 (when a better vaccine became available), should be re-vaccinated. As for German measles (rubella), which can cause serious birth defects, prospective mothers should be tested for immunity and then immunized if negative. Finally, hepatitis B vaccine is very important--and too often overlooked--for health-care workers, intravenous drug abusers, and persons with multiple sex partners.
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Title Annotation:flu season
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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