Time to Get That Flu Shot

United States Coast Guard Photograph

Boatswain Mate James V. Maida cringes and looks away as Health Services Technician Edward Goff administers a shot of the influenza vaccine. Coast Guard personnel are administered the flu vaccine annually prior to the onset of flu season.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone six months of age and older be vaccinated against influenza each year.

"Getting a flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease," CDC states in a press release about this years' flu shot.

Some people are at higher risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu.

These include:

• People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease

• Pregnant women

• People who live with or care for others who are at a high risk of developing serious complications. "This includes household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease," the CDC states.

The CDC recommends that people get vaccinated against influenza as soon as the 2012-2013 flu season vaccine becomes available in their community. Influenza seasons are unpredictable, and can begin as early as October. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

Physicians have designed this season's vaccines to protect against three influenza viruses that experts predict will be the most common during the upcoming season. These include two types of influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and influenza B. CDC reminds parents and other caregivers that the flu is more dangerous than the common cold for children.

"Each year, many children get sick with seasonal influenza; some of those illnesses result in death," CDA states.

Children commonly need medical care this time of the year because of the flu. Each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized because of influenza complications.

And severe flu complications are most common in children younger than two years old. Any child with a chronic health problem like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system are at especially high risk of developing serious flu complications.

"The single best way to protect your children from the flu is to get them vaccinated each year," the CDC states.

Some children, six months through eight years of age, could require two doses of the flu vaccine. These include children getting vaccinated for the first time and some who have received the flu vaccine in previous years.

"Your child's health-care provider can tell you whether two doses are recommended for your child," the CDC states.

The CDC reminds parents and caregivers that the 2009 H1N1 virus continues to circulate. "This means that children who did not get the 2009 H1N1 vaccine in 2009-2010, or a seasonal flu vaccine in 2010-2011 or later, will not be fully protected from the 2009 H1N1 virus until they receive two doses of the 2012-2013 flu vaccine.


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