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Studies: Exercise Improves Flu Shot Effectiveness

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The flu remains a serious health concern, but the rate of new infections is slowing.

Last week, there were 15 deaths from the flu and 208 new hospitalizations. Compare that with 33 deaths and 541 hospitalizations the week before.

During the course of the flu outbreak, there has been a total of 75-flu related deaths.

Experts say that because we are still in the middle of the flu season there could still be a sharp uptick in coming weeks.

A new study confirms what other studies over the years have shown that moderate exercise — the kind that gets your heart rate up — right after or before you get the flu shot can help the vaccine spread more efficiently throughout the body.

At a free flu clinic at Southwest High School, nurse Mindy Fine says some research even shows that moving your arm around after you get the shot can improve the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Southwest student Natalie Robles is one of 50 who took advantage of a two-day free flu shot clinic at the school

“A lot of my friends have been in and out of school the last few weeks. The flu is starting to look pretty bad, and I really don’t want to get it,” she said.

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, the numbers reflect the state-wide trend that the rate at which people are getting sick is slowing. The outbreak, however, remains serious.

“This season is by far one of the worst influenza seasons we have ever seen at Children’s, and certainly the worst we have seen in the last several years,” said Patsy Stinchfield, the director of infectious diseases at Children’s.

Health care professionals say there is still time to get the flu shot, which can also protect young children and adults from getting ear infections.

“Influenza causes a lot of congestion. That congestion can roll into the middle ear, and if you can keep the congestion in your ear down, you are going to prevent ear infections,” Stinchfield said.

Next year healthy children and adults ages 2-49 will be able to get a new four-strain flu shot. The current flu shot only has three strains.

Studies show the four strain shot gives more resistance.

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