Monday, September 26, 2011
NOW is the time to get your flu shot
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people get their seasonal flu vaccine as soon as vaccine becomes available in their community. Vaccination before December is best since this timing ensures that protective antibodies are in place before flu activity is typically at its highest. The CDC continues to encourage people to get vaccinated throughout the flu season, which can begin as early as October and last as late as May.
Over the course of the flu season, many different influenza viruses can circulate at different times and in different places. As long as flu viruses are still spreading in the community, vaccination can provide protective benefit.
In addition, there are other people who may benefit from seasonal flu vaccination as late as April or May, even if influenza viruses are no longer circulating in the United States. This includes:
1. Persons likely to be traveling to the Southern Hemisphere where influenza may be circulating and
2. Children younger than 9 being vaccinated for the first time who still have not received their second recommended dose of vaccine. Studies have shown that two doses are needed in children younger than 9 the first year they are vaccinated in order to maximize the protective benefit from vaccination.
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010 when CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the U.S. to expand protection against the flu to more people.
While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it's especially important that certain people get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications.
1. Pregnant women
2. Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
3. People 50 years of age and older
4. People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
5. People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
6. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
Getting vaccinated against flu early in the season is important so your body can build up antibodies to the influenza virus. And the vaccine will NOT wane before the flu season is over. The flu vaccination provides protection against the influenza strains contained in the seasonal vaccine for the entire season. Vaccination can begin as soon as vaccine becomes available.
- 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)