Jennifer Garner Puts Flu Shot in the Spotlight

Getting immunized is not a guarantee that you won't get the flu, however, because each year scientists formulate the vaccine based on a highly educated guess of what influenza strains will dominate.

"The flu shot is probably about 85 to 90 percent effective in younger people, and in older people -- because their immune systems don't respond as well to the vaccine -- it may be closer to 65 percent effective," Edelman said. Still, "it's advisable to always get the flu shot, because there will always be at least partial immunity," he said.

On the other hand, the price of not getting vaccinated can be steep, especially for the very young or elderly. According to the lung association, 36,000 Americans die every year from influenza and about 226,000 are hospitalized. When combined with pneumonia, flu remains the eighth leading cause of death in the United States.

Unlike the 2004-2005 season, when production troubles caused a shortfall in available vaccine, there should be plenty of doses to go around this year, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

"This year, we have already distributed 103 million doses of vaccine, and that's more than we distributed the entire season last year," she said. "By the end of December, it could be up to 132 million doses, which is more than 10 million more than we have ever produced. So, we're pretty optimistic."

Garner believes she and other moms are key to helping flu-vaccination efforts reach their targets.

"I understand the important role mothers play in our families' health and well-being -- it is our natural instinct to take care of our families and keep them protected," she said. "This includes talking to our doctors about whether influenza vaccination is right for ourselves and our loved ones."

More information

To find a flu vaccine clinic near you, and for more information on influenza, visit the American Lung Association.

SOURCES: Nov. 12, 2007, press conference, American Lung Association, New York City, with Jennifer Garner, actress; Dean Cain, actor; Norman Edelman, M.D., chief medical officer, American Lung Association; Anne Schuchat, M.D., director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta

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