An article about a Wisconsin law states “the plaintiff was jailed under the state’s Unborn Child Protection Act, which calls for the incarceration of pregnant women who the state believes could use alcohol or drugs while pregnant.”
Whew, there are some issues with this. First, it’s not that the woman is using drugs or alcohol, it’s that the state feels she could use them — this could be a universal population. Second, they are put in jail, as if this will resolve all of the issues. All this leads to is women skipping prenatal visits because of fears of detection and arriving for delivery with no prenatal care. This does not lend itself to a positive outcome.
Several organizations have gone to court to determine the legitimacy of the law, so we shall see.
Farther from home, it is noted that Australia had one of its worst flu seasons in some time. The southern hemisphere is used as an indicator for the northern hemisphere because the seasons are reversed, thus they get the flu season first. That country also has higher immunization rates than the United States, so it may indeed be a rough year for the H3N2 strain here.
Many people use September or October as the flu vaccination period. Since it takes about two weeks to become effective after vaccination, getting it at that time gives the best protection as the weather changes.
So how long does a flu shot last? The answer is dependent upon how strong your immune system is. That being said, a young healthy person might have protection for a full year. Counter that with an older person with a compromised system and he might need two shots to get a year’s protection (given six months apart). So, since there is no immune report that I am aware of that I can access like a credit report and I want protection through April, I will go with the shot being given in mid-October. If you recall, our season was late last year with more cases in March and April than in September or October.
For those people who got vaccinated in the summer for some obscure reason (probably because a sign said flu shots available), if your immune system is not up to snuff you may need another dose or you could become one of the statistics. Because this second one is not always covered, a rule of thumb could be to seek vaccinations as you reach for the leaf rake — they coincide pretty well.
Bill Smith is the director of the Robeson County Health Department.