Ken Kesey might have titled his 1962 novel One Flu Over the Cuckoos Nest if his characters in the hospital were laid-up with aches and fever instead of hallucinations and anxiety. And you can bet R.P. McMurphy and the rest of Nurse Ratcheds patients would have flown through the winter season a lot healthier if theyd gotten their flu shots.
Flu shots are effective 52 percent to 72 percent of the time. That protects you and especially children, people with diabetes, the elderly and others who are most vulnerable from complications (pneumonia is a biggie).
And now we know there are added huge benefits: Getting a flu shot slashes cardiac events, such as stroke, heart attack and even heart-related death, by 50 percent.
Yes, there are side effects (some major), but the benefits are 4,000 times greater than any of the risks. (Those odds would make you a zillionaire in Vegas.) Still, only 36 percent of Canadians and 42 percent of Americans are inoculated each year. So, if you havent gotten a flu shot for yourself or your children, heres the drill:
Everyone 6 months or older should get a vaccination.
There are two options: an injection (uses an inert virus) thats FOR EVERYONE; and a nasal spray (uses a live virus), which is NOT for children 6 to 24 months or adults over 50. There are other restrictions, so if you cant handle a shot, ask your doc or pharmacist if the spray is OK for you.
Dont be cuckoo; get protection.
The You Docs Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic are authors of YOU: Losing Weight. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com. A King Features syndicate.