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National Editorial & Columnists

Sometimes, government has ideas that are good for you

Flu vaccines are among them

From mandating seat belts to banning high-sugar drinks, government is fond of trying to run our lives, sometimes to the point where we want to say, “Back off, please.”

Most of what the state mandates we can comfortably live with, if we’re of a responsible nature. But once in a while, we have to be reminded how to be responsible. Flu season is one of those times.

The Illinois Department of Public Health is at this moment advising people that it’s time to get a flu shot. The vaccine is arriving at local health departments, pharmacies and health care clinics. Along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state recommends everyone 6 months and older get a shot as soon as it is available.

People who regularly take flu shots generally swear by them, claiming their health is better for it as the wintertime ills approach. Occasionally, though, they still get the flu because of the many strains that are out there and whether they were exposed before getting a shot.

By the same token, those people who don’t take the shots see the same outcomes – nothing or the flu. So, are they better off for not having a shot? You’ll have to ask them.

The state is trying to take a little of the myth out of the equation by spreading facts just as the season heats up, and one of the bigger myths is that getting a shot can actually prompt the flu in your body. According to state Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, the viruses in the vaccine are either killed or weakened. “You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine,” he said.

Every season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick and spread the illness to others. Flu deaths in America range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people each year.

Most of those deaths are people 65 years and older.

The experts recommend regular flu shots for people 6 months and older; high-dose flu shots if you’re 65 and older; or smaller needle flu shots for those 18 to 64. The nasal-spray flu vaccine is approved for healthy people 2 to 49 years of age (and not pregnant).

Everything you ever wanted to know about the flu is on the CDC website, and the choice is always yours. Take the flu shot or not.

The more you know about your body and how to care for it, the better you’re going to be, and perhaps the longer you’re going to live.

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