This Winter's Flu: The Worst in 10 Years

This Winter's Flu: The Worst in 10 Years

I used to pooh-pooh the flu as no big deal. But this year, I’m very glad I had the gumption to trek to my local Rite Aid and wait patiently for my shot. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control are saying this could be the worst influenza outbreakthey’ve seen in the past 10 years. According to the latest reports, more than 2,200 people have been hospitalized since October, and 18 children have died. In Boston, they’ve declared a state of emergency due to a tenfold increase in influenza cases. One hospital in Pennsylvania was forced to pitch tents to handle the glut of patients.

All of which means: If you've been meaning to get a flu shot yet, it’s high time. As Christina from A Mommy Story notes,

“After going through nursing school, and seeing just how bad the flu can be for some people (as in, life-threatening), I now routinely get them each year. I may be strong enough to fight it off, but I don't want to be miserable for days, and I don't want to make others sick.”

Vaccine shortages are cropping up across the U.S., although it’s more of a shipping issue than a matter of supply, as the immunization is plentiful. Still, this means getting vaccinated might not be as easy as swinging by your local drug store. To find who administers the vaccine in your area, go to the HealthMap Vaccine Finder at flushot.healthmap.org, where you can search by zip code of some 40,000 locations.

Flu season has yet to hit its peak, say experts, and will continue until March. It takes around two weeks for the immunization to take full effect—all the more reason to carve out the time to get it done now. And it’s particularly important that kids get the vaccine, since these little germ factories exhale more of the virus than adults do if they’re sick.

Even after you get the vaccine, it may not be 100% effective. If you do feel like you're coming down with the flu, call your doctor: Treatments like Tamiflu and Relenza can help stop the virus from spreading from cell to cell. Meanwhile, some homemade remedies can help soothe the symptoms once you've got them.

Did you get the flu this year? Did you get the vaccine? Are you worried?

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