The New Flu: Are You At Risk?

    Cold and flu supplies, including a box of tissues, a thermometer, and a variety of cold & flu medicinesLast year was the mildest flu season on record. However, experts are warning that the 2012 flu season is likely to be more serious.

    “People cannot become complacent this year,” said Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Influenza strains constantly evolve, and some cause more illness than others. For example, two new strains of flu have begun circling the globe, and last year’s flu shot won’t offer protection against them.

    One of the strains includes a new H3N2 strain, which tends to be harsher than other flu types.

    So, what can you do?

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    The good news is that vaccines have been updated accordingly, and government reports are showing that they are working well to fight against these new strains. Only one ingredient in this year’s flu vaccine was retained from last year’s, protection against the H1N1 strain that caused the 2009 swine flu pandemic and has been the main kind of influenza circulating since. Also new in the 2012 shot is protection against a different Type B strain.

    The bad news? Adults are still not getting vaccinated, particularly in the black community. A yearly vaccination is still the most recommended method of protection for nearly everybody. New figures show that last year, while 52 percent of children, only 39 percent of adults were immunized.

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