It hasnít been too many years since flu vaccine was in such short supply, a line formed that wrapped around the block where the Brownwood-Brown County Health Department is located. But the situation has improved each year since, until The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that the supply will be adequate, perhaps even abundant, for those seeking vaccinations for flu.

Manufacturers plan to ship 132 million flu vaccinations, more than ever before. But that doesnít necessarily mean all is well as the flu season approaches. The problem, according to the CDC, could be convincing the people who need the shot most to get them. Of the groups for whom the CDC recommends vaccinations, only a fraction of those individuals actually receive them.

For example, according to CDC statistics, only one in five infants and toddlers receives the vaccine. Just one in three adults age 50 to 64 will get a shot. Three out of 10 adults under age 50 who are considered at risk because of chronic health conditions ó like asthma ó are vaccinated.

Flu makes you feel miserable, and thatís the least of it. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, symptoms of flu come on suddenly, one to four days after a person is exposed exposed. These symptoms include a sudden high fever, headache, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. Children also may have an ear infection, nausea or vomiting. Young children with flu can develop high fevers and seizures. Generally, people start feeling better after the bodyís temperature returns to normal, in about three days, and are ready to return to their normal activities in about a week. Tiredness and a cough may linger for several more weeks.

Each year, the flu virus infects up to 20 percent of the American population. An average of 200,000 people are hospitalized because of the flu, and 36,000 die from flu complications, CDC statistics show.

But Americans donít like to get flu shots. Last year, about 15 percent of the available flu vaccine went unused. This year, with an ample supply assured, health officials are encouraging everyone interested to get vaccinated, regardless of whether they are in a high-risk group. Vaccine is already being distributed to nursing centers, and it is expected to be delivered by October to veterans clinics, physiciansí offices and other health care services.

Getting that shot is solid advice. It could could save you a lot of discomfort, a week away from work or school ó or consequences that are much worse.

Brownwood Bulletin