The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Opinion

January 24, 2014

Editorial: Take precautions to guard yourself, others from flu

Have you had your flu shot?

If you’re over the age of 65, pregnant or have a compromised immune system, the answer should be “yes.” If you have children between 6 months old and 5 years old, hopefully you’re answering in the affirmative for them as well.

But what about the rest of us?

Common wisdom over the last decade has been to simply encourage vaccination for the young and middle-aged adults. However, many of us have taken that as a sign to skip out on getting a shot. If we’re not in one of those high-risk categories, we are far more likely to take our chances with a nasty bug or two.

This flu season, that attitude is most unwise.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the H1N1 virus, which reared its ugly head in 2009 and affected 43 million people nationwide, is back and showing increased severity among young and middle-aged adults. In the state’s most recent report, 35 percent of flu cases were found in people ages 5-24 and 32 percent in people ages 25-49. It’s a trend health officials are seeing across the country, including even warm climates like Florida.

We may think ourselves invulnerable or able to handle a few days of illness. But the reality is complications from the flu — such as pneumonia — can be life-threatening. Johnson County, situated just south of Indianapolis, had at least five influenza-related deaths in the second week of January.

Thankfully, health officials fully understand the risks. Three of our local hospitals have taken steps to limit the spread of the virus, placing restrictions on visitation hours and vaccinating employees.

You can do your part by washing your hands often, covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and getting that shot from your physician or at numerous clinics around town. You may not be a big fan of needles, but the temporary pain is certainly preferable to a bed in intensive care or a slab in the morgue.

In summary The reality is complications from the flu -- such as pneumonia -- can be life-threatening. Do your part to prevent the spread of the virus.

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