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December 14, 2018

Dr. Donald Milton, professor of environmental health, is quoted in a Dollar Shave Club article on whether forgoing a flu shot makes you an anti-vaxxer. 
In the article, Dr. Milton explains that getting a flu shot protects vulnerable populations like the immunocompromised or the elderly. “The elderly are more vulnerable because their immune system doesn’t respond well to lots of things. Also, they’ve had a lot of different flus over the years, and when they get the vaccine, the antibodies they already have may prevent the vaccine from creating the new antibodies,” he says. 
Dr. Milton also explains how getting young people vaccinated creates an immune “herd” of people who can help block the flu from spreading, “When you vaccinate large populations of young people, which includes school children and young parents and young adults, you can protect those vulnerable groups.”
Dr. Milton’s recent research has involved understanding how the flu is spread. A study released last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Infectious Virus in Exhaled Breath of Symptomatic Seasonal Influenza Cases from a College Community,” reveals it is easier to spread the flu virus than previously thought because of the large quantities of infectious virus researchers found in the exhaled breath from people suffering from flu. 
On the article’s question of whether not getting a flu shot equates people to anti-vaxxers, Dr. Milton is quoted as saying that we don’t yet have the data to make a comparison. 
Still, the article concludes that “much the same way that a small percentage of people can have a devastating impact and spread a disease, a small group of people can also have a major impact in not spreading it.”
Meaning, we can all play a part in reducing the impact of the flu by getting a flu shot. 


Related Links

Does Not Getting a Flu Shot Make Me an Anti-Vaxxer?

Infectious Virus in Exhaled Breath of Symptomatic Seasonal Influenza Cases from a College Community

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Donald Milton