Monday, December 09, 2013

Flu season is here: Vaccination is your best protection

Dr. Michael Jhung,
medical officer for the influenza division,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Today’s guest blog is by Michael Jhung, MD, MPH, MS, a medical officer for the Surveillance and Outbreak Response Team in the Influenza Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show nearly all states reporting some level of flu activity. While flu activity nationally remains low, it has been increasing and is likely to continue rising in the coming weeks. If you have not already gotten a flu vaccine this season, you should do so now. The flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu and any potential serious complications.

In the United States each year, on average, 5 percent to 20 percent of the population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications. Last flu season was a stark reminder of how severe influenza can be. There were high influenza hospitalization rates, especially in the elderly. CDC saw the highest proportion of persons 65 and older hospitalized for flu since tracking began during the 2005-2006 season. And sadly, the number of pediatric deaths was one of the highest since flu tracking began.

For these reasons, CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive an annual flu vaccination. It is especially important that people at high risk of flu-related complications get vaccinated. This includes pregnant women; children younger than 5, but especially those younger than 2 years; adults 65 and older; and people with chronic diseases such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes. Also, it’s especially important that people living with or caring for people who are at high risk of flu complications be vaccinated; this includes health care professionals and those living with children younger than 6 months of age, as they are too young to be vaccinated.

The good news this year is there are more flu vaccine options than there have ever been. CDC does not recommend one type of flu vaccine over the others; the important thing is to get vaccinated. To find vaccine near you, visit
Join @CDCFlu and @GetReady on social media to share the news of your vaccination by posting a message using #vaxwithme. In doing so, you will help remind and encourage others to get vaccinated — it’s the best protection.

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