“Its name was ‘Inza.’
“We opened the window
“And in flew ‘Inza.’”
— Ditty from the great flu epidemic of the early 20th Century
It is flu season again, and this year scientists are promising that the outbreak will be particularly bad.
Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified Alabama as one of five states with higher-than-normal cases of flu. Our state again is on the wrong list where the health of our residents is concerned.
Although flu season does not usually begin until after Christmas, Alabama is already seeing an abnormally high rate of flu. Does this mean this flu season will be particularly bad? No one can say for sure. The severity, according to Dr. Mary McIntyre of the Alabama Department of Public Health, “is going to depend on people going to get their (flu) shot.”
Historically, not enough Alabamians get the shot, and because they don’t, the chances of them getting the flu increases. Thus begins the cycle of more people coming down with flu and more people helping the virus to spread. Medical experts tell us that the most effective way to stop it is the shot.
The reasons (and excuses) why too many Alabamians don’t get the annual vaccine are many.
For some, it is financial. Alabama is home to many people who are poor and/or uninsured. Often, they are not insured because the state is cutting corners on Medicaid, so they cut corners themselves, and eschewing the flu shot is one way to cut expenses.
For others it is access. Outside of the largest urban areas, Alabama has little in the way of public transportation, so people who don’t have reliable transportation may have difficulty getting to a health clinic or pharmacy.
Then there is a lack of education. It’s unfortunate that there are those who do not understand what the injection does and are afraid the shot will give them the flu instead of increase their chances of avoiding it.
And, of course, some people simply hate needles.
Therefore, people get sick. They lose time from work. Some end up in hospitals, and if they are not insured, they are treated at public expense.
So, if you have not gotten your flu shot, get it — and urge everyone you know to get theirs, as well. Let’s get Alabama off that list.