Fewer people may need flu shots this fall

For the first time in seven years researchers say the flu strains circulating haven’t changed.  That means the same vaccine that was produced last year, will be repeated this year.  It has some doctors saying healthy people may not need to get a flu shot this fall.

“For healthy people, it can’t be said to be necessary,” said Dr. Robert Couch, a flu vaccine expert at the Baylor College of Medicine told AP News.

Despite that advise, manufacturers of the flu shots will produce more vaccine this year than they ever have.

“We are confident in our 2011 projections for the U.S. market. They are based on ordering patterns as well as what’s known about the epidemiology of the flu,” said Liz Power, spokeswoman for Novartis Vaccines, one of the main manufacturers of flu shots for the United States.  Manufacturers will produce somewhere between 160 million to 175 million flu shots this year.

The uptick in the number of vaccines could be in response to the health officials encouraging everyone under the age of six months to get a flu shot.  It’s believed health officials will still campaign for the blanket vaccinations this fall.

While doctors seem to disagree on the right advise for the upcoming season, an expert at the University of Michigan seems to think it’s best to be cautious.

“The bottom line is, with our current knowledge, we believe it is better to be re-vaccinated. And getting another shot is certainly not going to harm you,” said Dr. Arnold Monto “Better safe than sorry.”

Tamiflu, the influenza blocker

Tamiflu is an antiviral medication that blocks the actions of influenza virus types A and B in your body, according to drugs.com.

“Tamiflu is used to treat flu symptoms caused by influenza virus in patients who have had symptoms for less than 2 days. Tamiflu may also be given to prevent influenza in people who may be exposed but do not yet have symptoms. It will not treat the common cold.”

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