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Beat the Flu Before It Starts

The Importance of Getting That Flu Shot

Each year, you see reminders that you should get your flu shots everywhere you go. But only about 42.1 million people in the U.S. do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Less than half of adults under the age of 65 got the shot during the 2014 to 2015 flu season.

But the flu is still dangerous, and people can and do die from it each year. And we don’t know how serious the flu will be each year. From 1976 to 2007, the number of people who’ve died each year has ranged from 3,000 to 49,000.

And in recent years, 80 to 90% of those deaths have been in the 65-or-older population.

So while you may not have thought the flu was a danger before, make sure you get the facts and get protected this year.

What is the Flu Season?

Flu season in the United States can start as early as October and last until as late as May. The most serious period of outbreaks usually peaks in January.

The flu makes its way through the American people during this time, and a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and those around you each year.

Who Needs to Get the Flu Shot?

Everyone over 6 months old should get the flu shot, but it’s especially important for kids, pregnant women, and those over 65. The flu can be more dangerous for these people and for others at high risk.

Even if you may not be in one of these groups, you should still get the shot. While you never want to get sick, it’s important to get your shot to help your community and those most at risk around you.

Like with all vaccines, the more people who get protected, the less likely the flu will appear in your community at all. The more people who aren’t protected, the more likely it is that lots of people will get sick, even those who did get protected, because it can get stronger passing between people.

Who Should Not Get the Shot?

Different flu vaccines work for different people, so your age, current or past health, and allergies can all affect if you should get the shot. Some people shouldn’t get the shot, and some people are at risk and should talk to their doctor first.

When Should I Get the the Shot?

You should get vaccinated as early as you can, usually before or in October. It takes about 2 weeks for your body to build antibodies to the flu from the vaccines, so it’s best to get it before the flu starts to spread in your community. However, it’s better to get it early or late rather than never.

How Does the Flu Shot Work?

To make vaccines, scientists and drug makers study what strains of the flu virus happen in the lower half of the world during its flu season, June, July, and August, and use this to build flu shots for our flu season.

Depending on how well that vaccine matches the flu virus in our flu season, it can reduce the overall risk of flu by 50 to 60%.

While it helps you build your resistance to the flu, flu shots can’t actually give you the flu because the virus is dead before it’s put in the shot.

For the next flu season, shots will include 3 or 4 strains, but the nasal vaccine shouldn’t be used this year, according the CDC. Recent studies have shown it wasn’t effective in the past few flu seasons.

You need a new shot every year because your protection fades over time, and because the shot could be made up of different strains from year to year.

Get your flu shot at covered pharmacies and protect your family and community this flu season.

Preventing Colorectal Cancer

A Cancer You Can Help Prevent with Screening

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 93,090 new cases of colon cancer in 2015 and another 36,610 cases of rectal cancer.

Your risk of getting colorectal cancer is 1 in 20. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. It will kill nearly 50,000 people this year alone.

But it doesn’t have to.

Colorectal cancer is also highly preventable. Screenings can find polyps, or small abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. Over time, these polyps can become cancer. Removing them before that happens can save lives.

These screenings also can catch cancer at an early stage, and treatment at this point often leads to being cured. About 9 out of every 10 people with this type of cancer who get treatment early are still alive in 5 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies are screening exams for colorectal cancer, and they’re very similar procedures. In both, a doctor looks for polyps with small cameras.

People are usually given medicine to relax and sleep during a colonoscopy. Once you’re 50, you should start having this done once every 10 years depending on your risk for colorectal cancer.

People usually don’t need medicine before a sigmoidoscopy, and this test is usually done once every 5 years.

While the number of people getting these screenings has been slowly growing, many more lives could be saved.

In 2010, it was estimated that only 60% of those who should be getting these tests were getting them. About 1 in 3 Americans, or 23 million adults between 50 and 75 years old aren’t getting tested. Medicare-aged adults in particular aren’t getting this important test.

According to the American Cancer Society, the number of colon cancer deaths in the U.S. could be cut in half if Americans followed the recommended screening guidelines.

And it’s so easy to protect yourself! Just talk to your primary care doctor about your risk for colorectal cancer and when and how often you should get screened.