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The Need for Needles This Flu Season

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Flu (Image: iStock.com)

It’s old news that flu season is coming, and you need to get vaccinated.

But this year, the news comes with a twist: The nasal spray vaccine, FluMist, is not recommended. You need to get a shot.

And here’s the cardiac news: For anyone with any kind of heart condition, the flu vaccine is especially vital.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has embarked on its annual campaign to persuade Americans to get vaccinated against the flu—and to not underestimate the need to avoid what can be a deadly virus.

“Flu is serious. Flu is unpredictable. Flu often gets not enough respect,” said Tom Frieden, M.D., the CDC director. “It is not the common cold … . Flu each year sends hundreds of thousands of people to the hospital and in a bad year, kills up to 49,000 Americans, including the elderly, people with underlying conditions, and infants.”

The CDC recommends a flu vaccine for nearly everyone over 6 months old. Although the figures have trended upward in recent decades, the number of Americans who got vaccinated actually declined slightly in the 2015–2016 flu season. The CDC calculates that about 140 million people, or 46% of the eligible population, took its advice last year.

Getting those numbers up faces a new challenge this year. About 15% of those vaccinated a year ago opted for the nasal spray vaccine over the syringe. But the CDC and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases have declared the spray ineffective.

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Black Health Matters (BHM) is the leading patient and consumer-focused health information website for African Americans. BHM connects health information seekers to the highest quality health content on the web, shared via social media and disseminated at BHM community-based health events. Committed to making African American families healthier, BHM imparts expert advice on disease management while promoting healthier lifestyles. The result is a compelling health content experience that resonates within the cultural context of the user’s life.