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“It is important to make sure health care workers understand the disease. Perhaps there hasn’t been as much attention to that. We are hoping it is a matter of educating and, this year, taking advantage of more visibility” for flu-related issues.

But doctors are capable of making ill-informed medical diagnoses.

Dr. Talbot said a physician recently told him in a casual conversation at a medical conference that he did not plan to get a flu vaccination because “he said ‘all my patients are vaccinated.’ ”

However, Dr. Talbot said, the other doctor in the conversation specializes in kidney transplants. His patients therefore should be on immune-system suppressants and a flu vaccination wouldn’t help their immune systems, leaving both him and them just as vulnerable.

Dr. Conrad Fischer, an infectious disease specialist and director of educational development at Nassau University Medical Center in New York, said that refusing a flu shot is “not a rational decision.”

“It is odd at this time in the world of routine miracles,” said Dr. Fischer, the author of a newly published book about modern medicine titled “Routine Miracles.”

“They refuse because of a fundamentally false belief system - that vaccines cause disease,” he said. “Frankly, that is why we have public health laws so you can have sane, rational people look at evidence. I would have mandatory vaccinations: You can’t drive drunk; you can’t walk around the streets with TB.”