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A question to ask your doctor

Here's an idea for everybody: Call or email your doctor and ask him or her, "Are you going to get vaccinated for the H1N1 influenza strain -- aka 'swine flu' -- as soon as it becomes available for health-care workers?" (The first doses of vaccine areexpected to arrive in mid-October.)

It would seem that an alarmingly high percentage of people who should know better -- health workers throughout the world -- are balking at the prospect of getting stuck in the arm with a vaccine for this new strain.

That's too bad, because I for one don't relish the idea of walking into the waiting area of my doctor's office this fall and inhaling H1N1-laced droplets from the breathing passages of the very people who are supposed to be keeping me healthy. True, there's no reason yet to assume that the new strain, while it is likely to spread like wildfire because no one under about age 50 is thought to have any immunity to it, is any more of a killer than the prevailing seasonal flu strains with which our immune systems are more familiar.

But have you ever had seasonal influenza? I have, and I dropped twenty pounds in the two weeks I was forced to lie in bed. You don't want that one, either. The seasonal vaccine is actually pretty darned effective, and there's every reason to expect that the H1N1 vaccine will be, too.

So get vaccinated for both varieties as soon as you can. And, for all of our sakes, tell your doctor (and all the other people in his/her office) to do the same.

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