The West Nile Virus started a panic about mosquitos this summer, but here is something to think about as we move into winter. The Centers for Disease Control says the West Nile will kill fewer than 200 people this year while the flu will kill 20,000 mostly people over the age of 65, and it will hospitalize more than 114,000 people of all ages.
"If they get influenza, it could be deadly. This is not a cold, this could lead to pneumonia and in the elderly, to death," says Dr. Doris Bucher of New York Medical College.
The crazy thing about this is that the flu almost always preventable, thanks to the flu shot. The CDC has long advised the elderly to get flu shots, along with those who suffer from chronic health problems, or anyone who comes in contact with high risk groups. But for the first time this year, the recommendations have been expanded to include healthy children, particularly babies and toddlers.
So, what about the rest of us? Well, you can not take the flu shot if you are allergic to eggs, but if that is not a problem, then Dr. Bucher says why risk a week or more of feeling awful, losing time from work or school when you could have gotten some protection from a flu shot.
One more note, you cannot get the flu from the flu shot. If you get the flu after the shot, you picked up the virus before your shot had the two weeks it needs to build an immunity.