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December 18, 2014     The Ponchatoula Times
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December 18, 2014

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THE TIMES, DECEMBER 18, 2014, PAGE 8- Like us on Facebook Health Flu Vaccine 2014: How Good is It? By PROF. RANDOLPH HOWES M.D., PhD (EDITOR'S NOTE: Longtime medical columnist for The Times, the author is an accomplished surgeon, medical inventor, and Country music recording artist. Dr. Howes grew up on his parents' Ponchatoula strawberry farm. He is a graduate of St. Joseph, Ponchatoula High School, Southeastern, Tulane - two doctorates, followed by a residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in plastic surgery. He says he is "retired" now in Kentwood. The doctor's column appears on facebook.com/the- ponchatoulatimes and on facebook.com/theindependencetimes. It is also available online at ponchatoula.com/ptimes) Every year we are faced with the same dilemma regarding the flu vaccine. Previously, I have cautioned folks about being misled to believe that the vaccine will give them 100% protection. Dr. Howes strain of the virus has mutat- ed. I pointed out the conclusion of the respected Cochrane Col- laboration group, who came to the alarming findings on the in- effectiveness of flu vaccines and stated that it was "basically worthless." Even when studies "matched" vaccines to the vi- ral strain (which is uncommon) 97% of those injected received no benefit. Additionally, vacci- nations had "no effect on hospi- tal admissions or complication rates." Now, in the 2014 flu season, the CDC advised doctors that this year's flu vaccine is not as effective because the current Outpatient Ready to run There was an awesome crowd of 678 people who took off over the Hwy 51 Bridge for Middendorf's 6th Annual Manehac Run benefiting Options. (Courtesy Photo) Dr. Tom Frieden said, "We could have a season that is more severe than most with hospi- talizations and more deaths." Experts found that 52% of the 85 influenza virus samples col- lected and analyzed were dif- ferent than the virus strains included in this year's vaccine, indicating a mutation or drift of the strain. Influenza A (HaN2) is the most common strain of the vi- rus this season and this strain has been linked to higher rates of hospitalization and death, especially for those at high risk for complications, which is usu- ally the very young, the elderly and those with chronic health conditions such as asthma or heart problems. Health officials said it is too late to create another version of the flu vaccine this year, be- cause it takes four months to produce the vaccine. Still, Dr. Frieden said that although it is not as protective against a mu- tated strain, it can still decrease the severity of illness caused by the virus and the CDC still rec- ommends getting the vaccine. The CDC is also pushing the use of antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu and Relenza, once symptoms have started. They said only 1 in 6 people who are severely ill with flu take them. During the 2012-2013 flu season 12,337 people were hos- pitalized and 249 children died. According to the CDC, ninety percent of those children were not vaccinated. Even though Louisiana ranks high in this season's flu cases, flu activity across the country is currently low. Officials report that 150 million doses of flu vaccine will be available this season. Vac- cines should be given before Thanksgiving because it takes two weeks to build up immu- nity against the flu. In the America that I love, the CDC acknowledges that common side effects include soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever and aches. Serious effects can include difficulty breath- ing, swelling around the lips or eyes, hives, a racing heart, diz- ziness and high fever. Please consult your doctor with your concerns and ques- tions. PRESCRIPTION COMPOUNDING NOW AVAILABLE I[ DRIVE THKU SERVICE AVAILABLE TEXT & EMAIL NOTIFICATION WHEN RX IS READY 1 MOST INSURANCE ACCEPTED ][REFILL RX ON OURWEBSITE OIL MOBILE APP I 15 % OFF ALL GIFTS & CANDLES 1625 HWY 51 N PONCHATOULA Located 1 mile south of North Oaks (Next to Cafe NOLA ) 'FREE LOCAL DELIVERY !! Come by and get to know us! II I I I ............ www.clausenracing.net Phone: 985-878-6982 55351 Hwy 51 N Fax: 985-878-2207 Independence, LA 70443 Email:floydc@clausenracing.net Gift Subscription $25 a year CALL 386-2877 Tangipahoa Magnet Programs THE TANGIPAHOA MAGNET PROGRAM PROMOTES ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE AND OFFERS STUDENTS AN ARRAY OF EDUCATIONAL CHOICES WITH A VARIETY OF PROGRAMS. Starting as carry as pre-k and kindergarten, give your chi[d o jump storL on on education that wi[l carry on for o [ifetime. Visit www.tangischools.org/magnet for Open House dates and contact information for Private Tours at the school of your choice.* [ APPLICATIONS ACCEPTED DECEMBER 15 TH - FEBRUARY 2 ND Reop the benefits of givin9 more students more choices/ ] TPSS MAGNET SHOWCASE HAMMOND COLUMBIA THEATRE 220 East Thomas Street - Hammond Saturday, January 10th 8 am - 11 am The Ponchatoula Times - Call 985-386-2877 - P.O. Box 743 - Ponchatoula, LA 70454-0743 - editor@ponchatoula.com