Medical Memo: What to do about the flu
What to do about the flu
Experts have urged nearly all Americans older than 50 to get a flu shot each year. With the unexpected loss of 48 million doses of vaccine, that's not possible in 2004–05. But it's still possible to prevent the flu.
People at high risk should try to get the vaccine. Among adults, candidates include people over 65 and those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, emphysema, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and weakened immune systems. Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities should be immunized whenever possible. Pregnant women and people who take care of infants younger than six months of age are also candidates for flu shots. Health care workers who have substantial contact with patients round out the list, but many are forgoing their shots to stretch the supply for vulnerable patients. People in good general health should do the same. Individuals with high-grade egg allergies should not get the flu shot. A limited supply of an intranasal vaccine is available, but it's not approved for any high-risk individuals.
Even without the flu shot, you can protect yourself from infection. Here are a few tips: