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A shot at good health

The flu is never anything to mess around with. Influenza of unspecified varieties claimed eight victims in Allen County last year.

Some strains of the disease are more worrisome than others, though. This season, swine flu, or H1N1, the virus that caused the pandemic of 2009 in which as many as 17,000 Americans died, is back worldwide.

Swine flu already has killed at least three people in Indiana, including a newly married 25-year-old woman in South Bend who developed pneumonia.

“The flu is serious,” Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deb McMahan said this week when she shared year-end statistics with the Health Department board. “There are young people on ventilation.”

But swine flu is one of the strains that this year’s vaccine prevents. And although it takes up to two weeks to take effect, it’s still not too late to get a shot. You can get vaccinated at your doctor’s office or at a pharmacy, or at the Health Department’s Immunization Clinic, 4813 New Haven Ave., 260-449-7514. Children and teens accompanied by a parent or guardian can also get the vaccine at Super Shot locations: Call 260-424-7468.

The Health Department urges you to protect yourself and others from the flu by washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your nose, eyes and mouth, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and staying home from work or school when you’re ill.

But to face the rest of this flu season without fear, first of all, get that shot.