Influenza: Have you gotten the flu vaccine yet? Influenza: Have you gotten the flu vaccine yet
Influenza: Have you gotten the flu vaccine yet?
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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has designated the week after Thanksgiving, November 26 â€“ December 2, as National Influenza Vaccination Week. This event is designed to highlight the importance of receiving yearly influenza (flu) vaccination, by encouraging greater use of flu vaccine through the months of November, December and beyond. Tuesday, November 27, was specifically designated Children's Flu Vaccination Day, to focus on vaccinating high-risk children.
While many people typically associate the “flu season” with the fall, the fact is that influenza cases usually peak in January or later. This means that if you haven't received the vaccine yet, it's not only not too late, but it's exactly the right time for you to do so. And getting vaccinated against the flu is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself and those around you from getting influenza this winter (aside, perhaps, from moving to Australia where it's summer, which, for most of us, is not a particularly practical plan).
Why should you get the influenza vaccine? First of all, real influenza, as opposed to the loose, inaccurate use of the term for nearly any viral illness (like “stomach flu”), is a highly contagious respiratory illness that causes serious systemic symptoms including headache, muscle aches, fever and extreme fatigue (aside from the respiratory symptoms of sore throat, coughing, sneezing and runny nose). When you have real influenza, it is, unfortunately, a truly memorable experience (as in one you'd like to forget, wish you never had, and hope you don't ever have again). Every year, about 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized (including 20,000 children under the age of five) due to influenza, and about 36,000 people actually die from the illness or its complications.
Had a flu vaccine last year or in years gone by and think you're still safe? Think again. The influenza virus is very, very tricky. It changes from year to year. Sometimes it changes a little and sometimes it changes a lot. Even when it changes just a little, it's enough to make you sick. And when it changes a lot it causes a pandemic (worldwide sickness) and millions of deaths. Immunity to one year's virus does not provide immunity to another year's virus. Fortunately, this is distinctly different from many other vaccine-prevented illnesses like measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, hepatitis, and others. Influenza is the one bug that requires annual immunization.
I'm going to provide you with the official list of those for whom influenza vaccination is recommended, but if you're not inclined to slog through it, here it is in one word: everybody (well, everybody over the age of six months). In the list below I'll highlight some of the more pertinent recommendations, but you'll quickly see it basically includes everyone.
Annual vaccination against influenza is recommended for:
• All persons, including school-aged children, who want to reduce the risk of becoming ill with influenza or of transmitting influenza to others;
• All children aged 6â€“59 months (i.e., 6 monthsâ€“4 years);
• All persons aged 50 years and older;
• Children and adolescents (aged 6 monthsâ€“18 years) receiving long-term aspirin therapy who therefore might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection;
• Women who will be pregnant during the influenza season;
• Adults and children who have chronic illnesses including: pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except high blood pressure), kidney, liver, blood or metabolic disorders (including diabetes);
• Adults and children who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by human immunodeficiency virus [HIV]);
• Adults and children who have any condition (e.g., cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders, or other neuromuscular disorders) that can compromise respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions or that can increase the risk for aspiration;
• Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities;
• Health-care personnel;
• Healthy household contacts (including children) and caregivers of children aged • Healthy household contacts (including children) and caregivers of persons with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza.
Don't be foolish (or should I say fluish?), get your influenza vaccine as soon as possible.
There are some people who should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. These include:
• People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs;
• People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past;
• People who developed Guillain-BarrÃ© Syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine previously;
• Children less than 6 months of age;
• People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.
Thehas a wealth of information on influenza and the influenza vaccine.
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