National Influenza Vaccination Week is Dec. 8-14!
This season, National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) takes place from December 8-14, 2013. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established NIVW in 2005 to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination through the holiday season and beyond. All around the country, NIVW events including a press briefing, radio interviews, health fairs, flu clinics, social media events, and educational opportunities will emphasize the importance of flu vaccination.
It's Not Too Late for a Flu Vaccine!
As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination can still provide protection against the flu. Flu activity doesn't usually peak until January or February in the United States, and the season can last as late as May, so it is important to vaccinate now if you haven't already.
CDC's Flu Vaccination Recommendation
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. A flu vaccine offers the best protection we have against this serious disease. Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination.
Are You at High Risk for Flu-Related Complications?
There are certain people who are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People 65 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease)
A full list of people at high risk of serious complications from flu because of age or other medical conditions is available at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm
In addition, there are other people for whom vaccination is especially important:
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
- Health care workers
- Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
- Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Some Children Need 2 Doses of Flu Vaccine
Parents, guardians and caregivers—some children 6 months through 8 years of age need two doses of influenza vaccine to be fully protected. Children in this age group who are getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses of vaccine, spaced at least 28 days apart. Some children who have received influenza vaccine previously will also need two doses. Your child's doctor can tell you if your child needs two doses.
Flu Vaccine–You've Got Choices!
The flu vaccine is available as a shot and as a nasal spray. There are several flu vaccine options for the 2013-2014 flu season including a flu shot that protects against three flu viruses, a shot that protects against four flu viruses, an intradermal flu shot (for adults 18 through 64 years of age), an egg-free shot (for adults 18 through 49 years of age), and a high dose shot (for people 65 and older). The nasal spray vaccine protects against four flu viruses and is approved for use in healthy* people ages 2 to 49 years who aren't pregnant. CDC does not recommend one flu vaccine over the other. The important thing is to get a flu vaccine every year.
In addition to your doctor's office or possibly even your place of employment, there are various locations in your community where flu vaccine is available, like your pharmacy, grocery store or local health department. Go to the HealthMap Vaccine Finder and type in your zip code to find flu vaccine near you.
If you're not sure or have questions about what vaccine to get, talk with your doctor or health care provider. For a complete list of who should and shouldn't get vaccinated, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/whoshouldvax.htm.
Over the years, hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines. Once vaccinated, you can enjoy this holiday season knowing that you have taken the single best step to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu. Get your flu vaccine today!
*”Healthy” indicates persons who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.
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