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Tips for staying healthy through flu season

Healy differentiates between bird flu and regular flu; talks about vaccines
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Much attention has been given to a possible bird flu outbreak around the world, but U.S. health officials are quick to remind people that the regular flu season is deadly to tens of thousands of Americans each year. 

With a well-publicized shortage of vaccine last year, there are questions about whether the U.S. has enough vaccines to take care of the regular flu as the season approaches.

According to Dr. Bernadine Healy, the former director of the National Institutes of Health and a MSNBC analyst, the CDC is not anticipating a similar problem this season.

"We have roughly 100 million units that have been ordered.  They're four companies that are producing it.  One of the companies is having some production delays," Healy told MSNBC's Chris Jansing on Friday. "But it's not expected to be anything more then a few weeks delay."

Healy, who said that late October and early November are the ideal time for those who need the vaccine to get it, noted that there are other ways to improve one's chances for flu prevention.

"(The vaccine) cuts your chances of getting it by about 80 percent but so do other things like washing your hands, avoiding people that don't have good hygiene like sneezing on people," she said.

Healy said that it's important to note that there is a big difference between the well-publicized bird flu and the regular flu

"The pandemic bird flu that we've been talking about so much in the headlines is something that's a much more serious thing.  It has very different standards for who gets vaccinated," she said. "It will be a very different scene and it's (something that's) in the future."

In addition to the lack of a link between the two flus, Healy shared some other good news.

"Right now, it looks like this might be a more gentle flu season," she said. "We can't tell yet but right now its less then predicted in terms of people showing up at emergency rooms with pneumonias or with the sniffles so I think that we have to remember, there are mild flu seasons and there are more aggressive ones but you can't tell until you're there."

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