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Editorial: Don't use needle as excuse to skip flu shot

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a recommendation that use of the popular FluMist vaccine be discontinued in favor of the more-traditional flu shot this coming fall and winter.

The reason behind this is data from 2013 through 2016 showing that the nasally administered FluMist has only been 3 percent effective — essentially offering no protection at all — whereas the injectable vaccine was 63 percent effective in preventing the flu.

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We expect this news to deter many children and some adults from getting a vaccine this year — whether it's because parents don't want to deal with a cranky child who doesn't want a shot, or they simply don't want a shot themselves. For children, it might be more difficult to find the shots. Places like retail pharmacies that have become popular destinations for people getting flu vaccines in recent years don't offer shots to children younger than 9, according to local health officials. The Carroll County Health Department, which typically offers FluMist vaccines to students during school hours, likely won't do that this year with the traditional shots because most nurses prefer parents to be present for injections.

And that is exactly why you should go out of you way to get yourself and your children vaccinated before flu season begins in the fall. Fewer people getting vaccinated means there will be a more carriers of the contagious virus and a better chance you'll catch it if you also aren't inoculated.

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Let's be honest — most of us don't like getting shots. At best, we tolerate it. And that's just the adults. Children can become especially ornery when they have to get a shot, and that's why FluMist has become a popular alternative for kids and their parents, and even grown-ups with a fear of needles.

In previous years, science had shown the FluMist to be just as — and in some cases more — effective than the traditional injectable vaccine. But the strains of flu continue to adapt and evolve, and the FluMist has not been effective against the H1N1 strain, which has become more widespread and can cause the most-serious infection in young people.

Some people just won't be persuaded to get vaccinated no matter what, and some will skip this season because they don't want a needle in their arm. Already, less than half of Americans get a flu vaccine each year, even though influenza is responsible for more than 30,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations annually.

Shots aren't pleasant, but a few seconds of pain and maybe a bruise on your arm is better than the aches, cough, fever and general discomfort — or worse — that come with contracting the flu. Don't use having to get a needle as your excuse for you or your child not getting a flu vaccine this year.

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