Don’t you just hate it when health officials badger you for weeks about the need to get a flu shot and when you finally find time to roll up your sleeve, they’ve announced a shortage of vaccine?
Luckily for you, there’s a way to solve that problem — get your flu shot early.
And before you start making excuses about it being too early, you need to take a hint from the Denton County Health Department.
Yes, flu season is already on its way, and Denton County health officials are strongly encouraging people to get themselves vaccinated.
“Public health is all about prevention. We would encourage everybody to take steps that would help protect their families against the flu that some years is pretty mild and some years can be devastating,” said Bing Burton, Denton County health director.
Flu shots are especially important for certain segments of the population so, for example, if you’re a baby boomer — and we know there a lot of you out there — listen up.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the 2012-13 flu season resulted in more hospitalizations of people older than 65 than any flu season on record.
So, if you’re in this age bracket, you might want to consider getting a flu shot. Do we know if this season will be as bad as the last one? No, but there’s certainly no reason to gamble.
In case you’re interested — and you should be — flu-related illnesses cause some 200,000 hospitalizations each year, according to the CDC, but on average, only 42 percent of Americans have been vaccinated against the flu in the past few years.
“We would encourage families to not expose themselves to undue risks. We get examples every year of individuals who could have been protected but elected not to have the vaccine,” Burton said. “Expanded use of influenza vaccine can be an effective way to prevent illness, hospitalization and death.”
The CDC also provided a few tips to help ward off the flu:
Bring your own pen to the bank, grocery store, even to touch the ATM. Anything a sick person touches can harbor germs.
Replace hand towels in bathrooms with paper towels. They’re not as pretty, but paper towels can help get rid of a ton of germs that live in damp towels.
Wash hands frequently. Use soap, warm water and rinse long enough to say the alphabet or sing “Happy Birthday.” Recent studies show plain soap and water work just fine.
Use a proper hand sanitizer, at least 60 percent alcohol, any time you touch anything. Make sure you use sanitizer under fingernails where germs can hide.
Clean with disinfectant. Viruses and bacteria can live up to two hours or longer on doorknobs, toys, TV remote controls, keyboards, mouse pads, refrigerator handles, counter tops, railings, faucets, bathroom floors and more.
When you stop and think about it, the odds are on the germs’ side and against you, so you might want to consider getting that flu shot.
It only takes a few minutes, and it really doesn’t hurt — especially when you consider the alternative.