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Flu Vaccinations: Yield Big Benefits

Flu vaccinations prevent illness and save lives.

Annual deaths in the U.S. from influenza ranged between 3,000 and 49,000 each year from 1976 to 2007. A significant portion of the sickness and death associated with this common illness could be prevented by immunizations. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that during the 2012-1013 flu season, immunizations prevented 79,000 (17%) hospitalizations and 6.6 million cases of the flu. These benefits accrued even though only 45% of the population took the flu vaccine and its effectiveness was 51%.

PositiveTip: Don't wait, get your vaccination today.

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How Your Body Fights the Flu

They are everywhere around us. How do we win the battle against viruses?

Why is it that some people get the flu and others don't? During this time of the year, we all inhale upwards of 10,000 or more viruses each day. God has given each of us a marvelous immune system to fight infections such as the flu. Here is a fascinating view of what this battle looks like down deep in your cells.

PositiveTip: Thank God each day for giving you an immune system. Then show your appreciation by the healthy choices you make!

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Flu Got You Down?

Effective ways to fight the flu!

Influenza is hitting the United States harder this year than in some past years. If you or a family member have it, here are five simple things you should do:

  1. Stay home to encourage healing and protect others from exposure.
  2. Rest as much as possible.
  3. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
  4. Eat sparingly and lightly: include broths, soup, toast, fruit, etc.
  5. Use a humidifier to ease stuffy noses and relieve coughs.

PositiveTip: To prevent a relapse, resist the urge to go back to work too quickly.

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Influenza Epidemic: 1918-1919

Many doctors, nurses, and others gave their lives to care for the ill.

The influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 killed more than 50 million people worldwide. In the United States, approximately 650,000 died. This "Spanish flu" was caused by an influenza A (H1N1) virus that targeted the younger population. The University of Michigan has an absolutely fascinating website, called "The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919: A Digital Encyclopedia," that describes the history of this pandemic in detail. It could take you hours to sift through this treasure of information, and it's worth a visit!

PositiveTip: Increase your knowledge of how the history of medicine helps address contemporary medical challenges.

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Flu Immunizations Help Keep Kids Out of the Hospital

Flu shots reduce hospital admissions for children.

Want to keep your child out of the hospital even if they get the flu? A single pediatric dose of the H1N1 vaccine administered at least 14 days before diagnosis was 85% effective at keeping the kids out of hospital according to Canadian research. A single dose is suboptimal, but in an emergency can be very helpful.

PositiveTip: Flu season is starting. Have you and your kids been immunized?

Influenza: Real Threat, Real Prevention

Short Message: get your flu shot today – especially if you are over 50 years old, younger than 2 years old, or have a chronic illness – like lung disease, heart disease, cancer, kidney disease, diabetes – to name a few. If you are not in any of these categories, have you been reluctant to get your flu shot?  Do you think you really don’t need it or there may be some danger to getting the shot?  Do you think it probably won’t work anyway?  Do you think that the flu isn’t really all that dangerous – it’s just a scare tactic for companies and doctors to make more money?

Fact – The flu virus is endemic (resides in the wild) in birds and animals.  Even if there is no large outbreak among people, the flu virus is living and multiplying around the world, on islands of the Pacific, the jungles of Africa and South America, the plains of North America and Middle Europe in the animals and birds who live in these regions.

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Maternal Flu Vaccination Pays Dividends in Infants

Risk for infant influenza was 41% lower when the mother was vaccinated.

Infants younger than 6 months are not eligible for influenza vacations, yet are at high risk for flu complications. A study following mothers with healthy infants older than <2 weeks for three flu seasons found that infants whose mothers had been immunized for the flu had 41% lower rates than infants of unvaccinated mothers. 

PositiveTip: Flu season is upon us. Have you been vaccinated yet?

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Obesity Decreases Flu Fighting "Memory"

Obesity impairs the body's ability to remember how to fight the flu.

Obesity is seen as an independent risk factor for the H1N1 flu virus.

New research in obese mice strongly suggests they are far more susceptible to secondary infections (i.e. pneumonia). It seems that the excess weight interferes with the immune system's ability to "remember" how to fight off previous similar infections. This kind of "memory" is essential for vaccine effectiveness, too.

PositiveTip: Attaining and keeping a healthy weight may significantly influence the likelihood of severe flu as well as secondary infections.

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Childrens' Flu Vaccines Benefit the Whole Community

Immunizing children significantly protects unimmunized community members.

Research among more than 40 Hutterite colonies in Canada found that when children from 3 to 15 years old are immunized against the flu, there was a 61% lower flu rate among the unvaccinated community members. By immunizing the children the entire community was significantly benefited. This study suggests that children and adolescents play an important role in transmitting the flu.

PositiveTip: High-risk groups and all children should be a high priority for flu vaccination.