National Influenza Vaccination Week set for Dec. 4-10
Each year the Center for Disease Control and Prevention observes a National Influenza Vaccination Week. This year, that week runs December 4 – December 10 and it is designed to help you understand the importance of the influenza vaccination (more commonly called a “flu shot” or “flu vaccine”).
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. During recent flu seasons, between 80% and 90% of flu related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older. “Flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. It is during this time that the flu viruses are circulating at higher levels in the U.S. population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The traditional flu vaccines (called “trivalent” vaccines) are made to protect against three flu viruses; an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. There are also flu vaccines made to protect against four flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines). These vaccines protect against the same viruses as the trivalent vaccine and an additional B virus.
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. 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 United States to expand protection against the flu to more people.
Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza. These include people with asthma, people with diabetes, people with heart disease and those that have had a stroke, people who have HIV or AIDS and people with cancer. There are other medical conditions that can put people at high risk for flu complications so be sure to check with your doctor.
Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups of people. Factors that can determine a person’s suitability for vaccination, or vaccination with a particular vaccine, include a person’s age, health (current and past) and any allergies to flu vaccine or its components. The
CDC does not recommend use of the nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) during 2016-2017.
If you have not had your flu shot this season, we recommend that you get your immediately. One you are infected, it is too late.
Dr. Gildardo Ceballos, M.D.
Information gathered from Center for Disease Control and Prevention Disclaimer: The contents of this article, including text and images, are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a medical service. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.