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Worth A Shot?

October 27, 2011, 6:14 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Worth A Shot?
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Many of us roll up our sleeves every year for the flu shot, thinking it will prevent us from coming down with influenza. But a new study shows the shot is only 59 percent effective in healthy adults. Still doctors are encouraging you to get the shot now more than ever.

Every year people line up, roll up their sleeve and wince for a second to arm themselves against the flu, but with only a 59 percent chance of it working, is it worth it?

"That means your odds are still six out of 10 of not getting it," Doug Noteboom said.

Noteboom gets the flu shot every year. Despite the study, doctors say it's a smart decision.

"It's the single best way to prevent influenza and the harm that influenza represents," Sanford Infectious Disease Doctor Wendell Hoffman said.

While Hoffman still recommends getting the shot, he says the study highlights the need for a new, more effective vaccine.

"A universal vaccine would be one that potentially would not have to be given every year. It could be once and then you are protected for life, and it would cover all of the variants of the flu virus that are out there in any given season," Hoffman said.

But for now, Hoffman says your best chance at preventing the flu is to get the shot and he recommends getting it now more than ever, especially for those in the health care field.

"Even if those persons get the flu vaccine, they may remain somewhat susceptible, so it becomes our responsibility as health care systems to make sure that as many of our employees who touch the patient are vaccinated," Hoffman said.

That's something Noteboom would like to see as he visits the doctor's office often for heart problems.

"I've got some major health issues, and I don't take any chances that I don't have to. And to me, the flu shot is an extraordinarily smart move on people's part," Noteboom said.

Some good news from the study: researchers found that the flu mist gives significant protection in young children, preventing the flu in 83 percent of kids seven years old or younger. Hoffman also says more tools are needed to more accurately measure how effective the vaccine is.

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