- Associated Press - Thursday, September 24, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Minot Daily News, Minot, Sept. 24, 2015

Make sure to get your flu vaccine

If you are like most people, you buckle your seatbelt when you get in a car or truck. After all, with about 33,000 traffic deaths each year in the United States, there’s no sense taking chances.

So … Gotten your flu shot yet? Why not? Influenza kills about 24,000 Americans every year.

If you are young and healthy, you may not think you need to be protected against the flu. Those most at risk are the elderly, the very young and those with existing health problems, you reason.

That is true enough. But while you may not need to safeguard your own health through a flu shot, think carefully about those with whom you come in contact. Do you really want to take the chance of passing the flu on to your elderly parents or grandparents? How about friends or co-workers with chronic lung diseases? Or the baby?

One reason some people may have little faith in flu vaccine is what happened last year. It turned out that in developing it, scientists were wrong about what varieties of flu would be prevalent. That happens - but not frequently. This year, public health officials are more confident vaccines will target the most serious flu threats.

Flu vaccine is available widely at this time of year - and affordability is not a concern. Insurance usually covers the cost; those without that can get help at county health departments.

So yes, buckle up on your way to get your flu shot - but be certain to get it.

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The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, Sept. 24, 2015

N.D. shouldn’t wait for federal help

Let’s imagine your household refrigerator is dying, no, let’s go even further, let’s say it completely stops working and it’s irreparable. Now, imagine your family is not doing well financially and does not have money to buy a new fridge and doesn’t have credit. Sounds like you have a big problem because as a family you need a refrigerator, it’s an important appliance.

But, let’s say you’re that same family and you have a dying, rich uncle who has promised there will be something in his will for you. While you’ll miss your uncle you also need a fridge so you decide not to get a second job or save for a replacement fridge, you decide to wait until your uncle dies and you’ll use your inheritance to buy the new fridge.

Sounds like a good plan, right? One problem, the uncle does pass away but he leaves you only $250, which is not even close to covering the cost of a refrigerator, which on average costs well over $1,000 these days. So you go without, leaving you no place to keep fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, meat, etc. Your family may suffer, but what the heck, the old guy stiffed you and you really don’t want to work a second job even if it’s only until you save enough for a new fridge.

This scenario is eerily similar to the situation many North Dakota schools find themselves in.

There are reports of schools without dishwashers so they use Styrofoam trays, and other schools are using 20-year-old commercial ovens that work poorly. An estimated $28 million in food service equipment update needs in the state.

Yet these schools, for the most part, are not replacing the equipment due to tight budgets.

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction explains the reason equipment is not being upgraded is that the federal government (the rich uncle) did not come through last year allotting North Dakota only $37,000 of the $25 million available to states for kitchen upgrades. So, North Dakota schools (the poor family) go with without.

Something does not seem right with this. If there really is this kind of need to upgrade equipment to properly feed our children at school our state has the resources to help. North Dakota is not “the poor family.” In fact, we are doing quite well, thank you.

In a state where citizens and legislators constantly complain about federal intervention in our schools - we don’t like being told what our curriculum must include, standardized testing, Common Core and other federal education mandates - we do without appliances when the same federal government won’t give us the dollars we need for the upgrades. The inconsistency rings hollow.

Our Legislature has been wisely conservative in its spending even during these times of great wealth. They have set up programs to save our billions of excess cash for the eventual rainy day. They also have wisely invested in infrastructure needs.

The ability of a school to meet its kitchen needs in order to feed its students kind of feels like a rainy day need.

The Bismarck Tribune calls on the Legislature to figure out a way to fund this need in state. We don’t need our rich uncle to take care of this for us. We have the resources.

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