I’m go­ing to get sick any­way so why bother with a flu shot?

The News (New Glasgow) - - LIFESTYLES -

Q: My eight-year old daugh­ter and I got our flu shots and then got sick any­way. I think next year we’ll skip it. What’s the use? — Carolina B., New York, N.Y.

A: It’s not fair to blame the flu vac­cine. There are sev­eral viruses out there that are not in­fluenza: res­pi­ra­tory syn­cy­tial virus or RSV, rhi­novirus, croup and the com­mon cold. You may have had one of those com­mon in­fec­tions, and your flu vac­cine may be pro­tect­ing you and your daugh­ter even now. Plus, it has many re­mark­able ben­e­fits in­clud­ing, but not lim­ited to, prevent­ing the flu or less­en­ing its im­pact.

For ex­am­ple, a re­cent Dan­ish study found that kids who ex­pe­ri­ence a bad-enough in­fec­tion to re­quire hos­pi­tal­iza­tion are at an 83 per cent higher risk of de­vel­op­ing a men­tal dis­or­der and a 42 per cent higher risk of us­ing psy­chotropic med­i­ca­tions. The flu qual­i­fies as one of those po­ten­tially hospi­tal-se­ri­ous in­fec­tions. You want to help your child dodge those risks for sure! And we won­der, could that be re­lated to an­other study from the U.K. that iden­ti­fied a rise in anx­i­ety among Bri­tish chil­dren, in a coun­try where many kids don’t get flu vac­cines?

Adults also are at risk if they skip the shot, and a sur­vey shows that over half of all adults are cur­rently not vac­ci­nated against the flu, and four in 10 don’t in­tend to get the shot! That’s a shame. A 2013 study of ran­dom­ized clin­i­cal tri­als pub­lished in JAMA showed that “in­fluenza vac­cine was as­so­ci­ated with a lower risk of ma­jor ad­verse car­dio­vas­cu­lar events ... The great­est treat­ment ef­fect was seen among the high­est-risk pa­tients with more ac­tive coro­nary dis­ease.”

So for young and old, re­mem­ber the say­ing: “For want of a horse­shoe nail, the king­dom was lost.” It means if you ig­nore first steps, one thing leads to an­other un­til the end re­sult is not what you want.

The same thing can be said about skip­ping your flu shot. It’s not too late to get one!

Q: My dad has a ri­fle, a shot­gun and a few pis­tols. He’s 82 and was a com­pet­i­tive marks­man back in the day. But I just heard about a health care worker who was shot by an 80-year-old in her care. She’d been with him five days a week for sev­eral months. Should I ask him if I can have his guns? — Jack K., Seat­tle

A: As our pop­u­la­tion grows older, the prob­lem that comes along with the com­bi­na­tion of de­men­tia and guns needs at­ten­tion! Forty-five per cent of peo­ple 65 and older have guns in their house­hold, ac­cord­ing to a 2017 Pew Re­search Cen­ter sur­vey, while nine per cent of Amer­i­cans 65 and older are di­ag­nosed with de­men­tia — and many oth­ers suf­fer from re­duced cog­ni­tion and mo­bil­ity is­sues. The com­bi­na­tion has be­come such a prob­lem that a non­profit Alzheimer’s vol­un­teer group in San Diego has de­cided not to send vol­un­teers into homes with weapons af­ter dis­cov­er­ing that 25 to 30 per cent of the house­holds their “helpers” vis­ited had guns.

Se­cu­rity is one of the big­gest rea­sons why peo­ple own guns. But when older peo­ple start to ex­pe­ri­ence cog­ni­tion and other phys­i­cal chal­lenges, imag­ined threats can seem all too real. Re­mem­ber the episode on “The So­pra­nos” in which Ju­nior (Do­minic Chi­anese) walks into the kitchen and shoots his nephew Tony (James Gan­dolfini) while he’s mak­ing pasta, think­ing he’s an in­truder?

A re­cent ar­ti­cle in the An­nals of In­ter­nal Medicine voiced doc­tors’ con­cerns about the risk of sui­cide by gun own­ers with de­men­tia. Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, the sui­cide rate in the U.S. is high­est among those 65 and older, and firearms are the most com­mon method.

AARP sug­gests fam­i­lies draw up an ad­vance di­rec­tive (sort of a health care proxy) for a firearm re­tire­ment date. An­other sug­ges­tion is to put any am­mu­ni­tion un­der (your) lock and key.

So now that you have this in­for­ma­tion, sit down with your dad and have a frank dis­cus­sion about his guns.

“Adults also are at risk if they skip the shot, and a sur­vey shows that over half of all adults are cur­rently not vac­ci­nated against the flu, and four in 10 don’t in­tend to get the shot!”

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Well­ness Of­fi­cer and Chair of Well­ness In­sti­tute at Cleve­land Clinic. Email your health and well­ness ques­tions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocs­[email protected]­care.com.

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