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Get Your Flu Shot
As professional football season gears up this fall, also comes the cold and flu season.
Brothas, its simple, get your flu shot. Each year about 30-35,000 people die from the flu in the U.S. and more than 200,000 people are admitted to the hospital due to flu symptoms. There are many, many real and imagined reasons why some won’t get a flu vaccine but it’s important to weigh the risks and the benefits. If you are the sole or primary wage-earner in your household, a flu shot could be the wisest investment you make all year.
The flu is totally preventable. Flu shots are covered by many health insurance providers and even if it is not covered or you do not have medical insurance, you can get a flu shot for about $25 at most pharmacy retailers (Walgreens, Rite Aid, etc.). For the price of a good restaurant meal, you have good peace of mind. It’s been estimated the flu season costs the country more than a billion dollars in lost work productivity and health care costs.
Common flu symptoms include fever, chills, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue, muscle or body aches, and headaches (from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Even though most people will recover from the flu in several days, young children and elderly people can experience more severe symptoms that could include pneumonia and even death. This is why it is important for you to get vaccinated so that not only will provide immunity for yourself but for other people as well who may have a weakened immune system. The flu is also highly infectious, most commonly spread through droplets which travel through the air via coughing and sneezing. And if by chance you already have flu symptoms, protect others by covering your nose and mouth by coughing/sneezing into your arm or elbow. And wash your hands thoroughly and consistently. Because you can pass the flu along to someone else up to a day before you actually show symptoms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2011-2012 flu vaccine will protect against the three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season which include influenza A (H1N1) virus, influenza A (H3N2) virus, and influenza B virus. Want to find out more about this year’s vaccine, general information, and locations where you can get your flu shot, check out flu.gov.
Emerson Evans is a second year master’s student studying infectious diseases and microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. He is also a HIV Prevention Specialist at the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and a Contributor to healthyblackmen.org.