WBUR (Boston) – Why Get A Flu Shot Now: Unusually Early Season, Already Here
To all our friends who have not yet gotten their flu vaccines yet, beware: This is looking like a very good year. For the flu, that is. A bad year for its human hosts. This year’s flu season has kicked off early and strong in Massachusetts and elsewhere. You may already be seeing those empty seats in classrooms and workplaces.

Wall Street Journal – Lawmakers Focus Early Gun-Curb Efforts on Mentally Ill
The debate over gun rights in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., has yielded one point of agreement among Republican and Democratic political leaders in Washington: laws on access to firearms among the mentally ill must be reviewed. But any effort to expand limits on gun rights based on mental health is bound to collide with privacy protections for patients and a variety of other considerations when addressing mental health.

Medscape – Public Health in the Smartphone Era
According to February 2012 data, smartphones made up almost half of the mobile phone market, up from 38% the previous year.] The average number of applications (“apps”) per phone has increased from 32 to 41 from 2011 to 2012.  Medical or health-related apps (those marketed to both the medical professional and consumer) continue to trend upward, according to various estimates. Despite this, significant challenges remain, including security, privacy, and regulatory issues.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution – CDC: Politics affected gun violence research
Do guns make people safer or less safe? Are some guns simply too lethal to be abroad in the land? At one time, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control was at the forefront in that debate, dedicated to addressing gun violence as a matter of public health. But gun rights advocates cried foul, accusing the CDC of practicing politics rather than science, and Congress agreed, stripping the agency of funding for gun-related research.

LATimes – Most Americans benefit from entitlements
Forget the 47%. A new study finds that 71% of Americans live in a household in which at least one member has benefited from one of the federal government’s major entitlement programs. The new data, based on a survey by the Pew Research center, underscore the wide reach of the spending programs that make up the lion’s share of the federal budget. More than half of Americans (55%) have personally benefited from one of the government’s six best-known entitlement programs, including 53% of  people who voted for Mitt Romney in November’s election and 59% of those who voted for President Obama.

Associated Press – Strange: Tobacco agreement ensures Ala. Funding
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says a multi-state agreement with major tobacco companies ensures continued funding for public health programs. Over the years Alabama has received nearly $1 billion for health care programs because of the agreement. The money has funded programs for children and senior citizens, and provided incentives for economic development. The payments are part of a 1998 anti-smoking agreement preventing tobacco companies from being sued to cover health care costs for smokers.