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Local docs advocating flu shots despite critics after second death

Local docs advocating flu shots despite critics after second death

The Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD) says the flu took another life this week.

The victim was in her 80s, an age-group experts say is especially at risk during flu season.

Last flu season 20 people died in Benton and Franklin counties.

Health leaders told Action News all three hospitals in our area are seeing fewer flu-tests come back positive.

Director of Lourdes Emergency department Dr. Raul Garcia says the cases they are seeing all have one frustrating thing in common.

"The flu positive cultures that we've seen are in people that haven't had the flu shot, mainly children," he said.

With the memory of last year's 20 flu-deaths on health worker's minds, Dr. Garcia says it's more important than ever for folks to get their flu shot.

"The flu itself is very dangerous," he explained. "The amount of harm that can be done by getting the flu shot is very minimal compared to the risk of not getting it."

BFHD Dr. Amy Person agrees, especially after her agency reported a second influenza-related death this year.

"Last year was particularly difficult especially in our bi-county area, so we certainly hope this season won't be a repeat of last year," she said.

Dr. Person says even though flu-season has started, it's not too late to get vaccinated.

"We're early in the season so it's hard to tell if its going to be as bad as last year," she said. "Which is why we want everyone to be protected."

Action News asked both doctors about the myth and controversy around flu-shots.

They say it's misleading and the risk of catching and spreading the flu when un-vaccinated is worse than any of the potential side-effects.

Both say getting your flu-shot is the best way to stay healthy.

"They've undergone rigorous testing, and there is constant monitoring looking for potential side-effects," said Dr. Person.

Aside from flu-shots they say the stuff we learn in preschool still applies.

"This time of year there are lots of viruses," said Dr. Person. "Handwashing is really the best thing you can do."

Dr. Garcia takes it a step further.

"It's the number one thing to do," he said. "There are certainly more viruses out there in the summer than in the winter, it's just better transmitted in the winter because we stay in."

He says if you do wind up sick, it's important to hydrate.

"We don't drink enough fluids when we're sick," he explained. "When we're sick, our bodies require a lot of fluids to fight the infection."

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