FIRST PERSON | MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. -- Sometimes you just get lucky. I recently retired from government service and moved back to our 20-plus-year-old home in just outside Washington, DC. During more than 50 years of service, I can count the number of flu shots I've taken on two hands and have fingers left over. I've always been told that, being very healthy for my age, my body could probably fight off the flu bug under normal circumstances. During an epidemic, however, all bets are off.
With this year's flu season kicking off earlier than usual, according to the CDC, and the deaths from flu and pneumonia just below the 7.1 percent epidemic threshold, you might think I'd be worried; but, I'm not.
Back in September, during a visit to the doctor with my wife to get her diabetes checked and her prescriptions refilled, I got into a conversation with the medical technician who was preparing to administer her long list of annual shots. There was no talk of a potential epidemic, but he did convince me that I was getting to an age where, excellent physical condition notwithstanding, my body's immune system is just not as formidable as it once was. I don't recall ever having the flu, or anything beyond the annual sniffles during the cold and flu season, and I didn't want my first year of retirement to be mucked up by coming down with something, so, when my wife took her flu shot, I went ahead and got one myself.
The Washington area has been spared so far, at least according to D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray. But, 41 of our 50 states have been hit with higher than normal hospital admissions of people with flu-like symptoms. If it hits here in the DC area, we'll of course take the usual precautions; avoid crowds, continue to get plenty of exercise and rest, proper diet, etc.; but, having had the foresight to get our shots early, giving our systems time to build up some immunity, we probably won't worry too much about it.
- Infectious Diseases