It's the holiday season, a time of reflection, celebration and for many, giving gifts. But there is at least one gift that no one wants to get, and certainly no one wants to give: the flu. And for people with cancer, and those they come in contact with, the flu can be a very serious event. For that reason and many more, people more than 6 months old-and especially those in contact with people who have serious illnesses like cancer-should get vaccinated against the flu.
Too many of us think the flu is a minor inconvenience. But that is almost certainly because we confuse the typical cold or upper respiratory infection, which usually means discomfort and maybe a day or two off work. Influenza is a much different and much more dangerous animal, especially to people with chronic diseases.
Over time we have become somewhat immune to the messages about the dangers of the flu, now that we have vaccinations and medicines which can treat the illness. Few are alive who remember anything about the great influenza pandemic of 1918:
"The influenza of that season, however was far more than a cold...The flu was most deadly for people ages 20-40...It infected 28% of all Americans (Tice). An estimated 675,000 Americans died of influence during the pandemic, ten times as many as in the world war. Of the US soldiers who died in Europe, half of them fell to the influenza virus and not the enemy (Deseret News) An estimated 43,000 servicemen mobilized for WWI died of influenza...