When the giant Philistine soldier Goliath saw the Israelite shepherd boy David stroll out of an olive grove, sling in hand, to challenge him, we wouldnt be surprised if the giant had thought something like, Take your best shot, kid. Down went Goliath.
Today modern medicine is bringing down another giant influenza one shot at a time. In fact, in the past six years, more than 13 million illnesses and 100,000 hospitalizations have been avoided because folks got their seasonal flu vaccine. And now a major review reveals that if youve had a heart attack or stroke, getting an annual flu shot will slash your risk of another cardiac event by up to 55 percent. This builds on a previous study that found a flu shot cuts the risk of a heart attack by 45 percent for folks who have cholesterol-clogged arteries but havent yet had a heart attack.
Flu shots are for everyone 6 months and older. This year, there is a standard shot available against two strains of influenza A and one of B (a trivalent vaccine). Theres a version for folks 18 and older who are allergic to eggs, and theres a high-dose version for people 65 and older. And if youre 18 to 64, the standard vaccine can be administered using an ultrathin needle for a lot less ouch.
Another version (called quadrivalent) also is available. It protects against two strains of A and two of B. Its also available as a nasal spray for healthy folks 2 to 49. So, take your best shot!
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of The Dr. Oz Show, and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.