Each year 5-20% of the population get influenza (the "flu")and around 200,000 Americans are hospitalized . A large part of public health is the prevention of infectious diseases within a community. A key way to do this is through the use of vaccines such as the flu shot which has been shown to the prevent the flu for 70-90% of vaccinated individuals. The new 2010-2011 flu shot will prevent 3 strains of the flu, including H1N1. These strains are chosen based on data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while the final decision is made by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The influenza vaccine is distributed by private vendors such as CVS, Target and Walmart who offer clinics by walk-ins and appointment for a small fee. It is also distributed free of charge at community clinics such as the health department and the University of South Florida Student Health Services. At this particular CVS branch shown in the photo above, the flu shot is $29.99. However if insured, the cost may be much less or even free of charge. Although the flu vaccine is available to everyone, there are certain high risk groups who should always make sure that they get the vaccine (and talk to thier doctor before doing so). These groups include pregnant women, children under the age of five, adults over 50 years of age and those who may be more likely to be exposed to the virus such as health care workers.
There are some minor side effects such as soreness at injection site, low grade fever and muscle aches. These side effects are usually rare and minute considering the effectiveness of the vaccine. So go get your flu shot and stay healthy this season!
Brittany, Chelsea, Aline, Isabelle