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Thursday
Nov032005

The Flu Epidemic

There has been a lot of recent concern about the possibility of a flu epidemic in the United States. Many people have pointed back to the great Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which swept through Europe and the United States, killing possibly 50 million people. We have not had a worldwide flu epidemic in over 30 years, so we are overdue.

The most important public health measure is to innoculate all the children. Why? Because studies of the flu in Japan and Texas have demonstated fairly convincingly that the flu virus is typically passed through communities by children. It is the elderly who typically die of the flu, but it is children who usually spread it.

If you have kids, especially kids in school or daycare, get them immunized. It is more important that kids get the shots than their parents. Adults typically have a 60% response rate to the flu shot (that is, 60% of adults who get the shot will become resistant to the flu), while kids have a 90% response rate. Thus, if your kids or grandkids get the shot, you will probably be better protected than if you get it yourself.

Bring your kids to their doctor.

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