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“Have you gotten your flu shot?” Whether your mother is asking you or not, now is the time to be scheduling that jab.

Once never questioned, especially by those old enough to remember the horrors of polio, vaccines have been more in the news these days, and often with a negative taint: discovered as not being refrigerated, people in disguise pretending to be older in order to qualify, non-scientists and presidents chiming in regarding effectiveness, and very, very little real scientific data diffused.

The reality is that life spans have been significantly lengthened by the science of vaccines.

The fact is that flu shots are effective, as are all FDA-approved vaccines.

How effective?

That is hard to say because the answer varies from year-to-year.

Flu vaccines are annually based on what experts learn from previous seasons, influenza patterns in other parts of the world and estimates of how the virus might mutate over the next 12 months.

But, on average, flu vaccines help reduce the number of people who get sick by between 40 and 60 percent, and that means that the vaccine can help prevent millions of influenza illnesses, as well as thousands of hospitalizations and deaths.

In the case of the seasonal flu vaccine in Mexico, it does not matter whether you are a citizen, foreign Mexican resident, a registered worker or even just a tourist. Not much is truly free in Mexico, but your seasonal flu shot is.

While most health services in Mexico are tied into the 45 percent or so of the population that is “formally” employed with payroll deductions and paying into federal taxes in Mexico’s socialized medicine program, at the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), anyone can get a seasonal flu shot. All clinics and centers have a table set up before you can even get to the information desk.

There are no questions asked or ID needed, no forms to fill out. The person at the reception desk will only ask your name and birth date for statistical purposes. You will get the jab right at the table in the lobby and be on your way.

Seniors, by the way, at any time of the year, can get the vaccine for pneumonia and tetanus. Shingles, however, has not made it to the official list.

So in a world where all the anti-vaxxers get most of the media coverage, get your family covered by the seasonal flu vaccine, and if you have seniors, take them along for the ride for their extra freebies.

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