Thursday, December 06, 2012

Earliest start to the flu season in nearly a decade — It’s not too late to vaccinate!

This week, officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that they are seeing increased flu activity around the country. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, said that this was “the earliest regular flu season in nearly a decade.” He also warned that “this could be a bad flu year.”

CDC made the announcement during a teleconference to kick off National Influenza Vaccination Week, which runs from Dec. 2-8. The observance was started in 2005 to remind people that it’s not too late to vaccinate if they haven’t gotten their flu shot before the holidays.

Frieden also had some good news: This year’s flu shot, which protects against different types of flu strains than last year’s shot, is almost a perfect match for the types of flu that doctors and hospitals are finding in the U.S. This means that people who have already had their flu shot this year will be well-protected.

The CDC recommends that almost everyone 6 months of age and older gets a flu shot every year. It’s especially important for people at high risk for complications from influenza — like pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with chronic diseases — to prevent getting the flu with a seasonal flu shot. (Find out more about high risk groups on CDC’s website.)

It takes about two weeks for the flu shot to fully take effect, so right now is a great time to get the flu vaccine. As Frieden reminded us this week, “When you get together with your friends and family, be sure you spread good cheer and give presents, and that you don't share infections and spread the flu.”

Here’s to healthy, happy holidays for all!

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