Flu shots can save lives, especially among the elderly who account for most of the 20,000 flu-related deaths in the United States each year. But physicians have debated whether vaccinating healthy, younger adults is worth the time and money. The answer is yes, according to a new study based on a computer model. The study was led by Patrick Lee, MD, a resident in internal medicine at Stanford Hospital & Clinics.
"Theres been a lot of debate about optimal treatment strategies," Lee said. "Our study shows that society as a whole benefits if you vaccinate the entire population and use antiviral medications on those who get sick."
Influenza, a viral disease characterized by nasal congestion, dry cough and fever, affects 10 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population each year, with an average of 2.8 work days lost per ill individual. Although anyone can get a flu shot, the Centers for Disease Control recommend vaccination only for specific groups, including the elderly, those with weakened immune systems and health-care workers. Most healthy adults choose not to get flu shots.
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