Flu raises questions about vaccinations

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Flu cases in the Miss-Lou are on the rise, with both emergency rooms and family practice doctors seeing more people every day.

One local doctor’s theory is that few people outside of the high-risk groups got the shots, leaving many people unprotected.

When they didn’t see too many cases of the flu going around, they didn’t bother to get a shot when it was available to the general public.

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That theory makes a lot of sense.

And it also should make all of us aware of the need for better monitoring of flu vaccines and a better assessment of who should receive a shot.

This year, the flu shortage caused by problems with one of the vaccine manufacturers forced health departments to limit who received shots. Only the elderly and others at high risk for flu complications received the vaccines.

Earlier this week, one study claimed that giving flu shots to the elderly has not actually helped save lives. While such data is still preliminary, it is reason to continue studying the effects of the vaccines. Perhaps it makes sense, for example, to vaccinate school-age children &045;&045; who are more likely to transmit the disease in the classroom and take it home to their parents.

In the meantime, try to avoid getting the flu by taking precautions such as washing your hands regularly.

And if you are sick with the flu, avoid going to work or school, where you will only infect more people.