September 25, 2013

OUR VIEW: Protect yourself from the flu


---- — The kids are out of the way — seasonal flu vaccines were offered to children 6 months to 18 years a week ago.

Now it’s time for the adults. The Cass County Health Department will be holding a walk-in influenza clinic for those 19 years and older Friday. You should make every effort to get there and get vaccinated. If you can’t make it to this one, there are bound to more chances to get a flu shot.

But if you wait, don’t forget. There’s a reason health officials talk so much about people getting a flu shot.

If you ask officials with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, there are many reasons. The big one is that flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. We tend to just think of the flu as something annoying that parks us on the couch for a few days. But the truth is, people can and do die from the flu.

The good news is, though, the more people who get vaccinated against the flu, the less flu can spread through a community.

And while the CDC encourages everyone to get a seasonal flu shot, there are certain segments of the population that the agency strongly encourages.

Those people include the following:

• People who are at high risk of developing serious complications (like pneumonia) if they get sick with the flu.

• People who have certain medical conditions, including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.

• Pregnant women.

• People younger than 5 years (and especially those younger than 2), and people 65 years and older.

• People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications.

• Household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.

• Household contacts and caregivers of infants less than 6 months old.

• Health care personnel.

The reasons why they call out these certain groups is because they run the most risk of succumbing to the flu or of infecting others if they contract the flu. If you fall into any of the groups mentioned, it’s imperative that you protect yourself and others.

And, to everyone else, we encourage you to also take the time to get a flu shot. It won’t be fun, but you’ll be thankful you did. Or you might be cursing yourself later as you shiver on the couch.

If you go: • WHAT: Influenza clinic for adults only • WHERE: The Cass County Health Department, 512 High St. • WHEN: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday • COST: $15. Payment may be made with cash or check only, does not bill Medicare or insurance.