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Wed Sep 19, 2007 at 21:29:56 PM EDT
( - promoted by DemFromCT)
[UPDATE]: My arm is sore from yesterday's jab. ;-)
WASHINGTON - After years of shortages and confusion, this fall promises plenty of flu vaccine to go around - up to 132 million doses, more than the nation has ever produced.http://www.philly.co...
The ample supplies have the government urging vaccination not just for those at highest risk of dying from complications of influenza, but for anyone wanting to avoid a week of misery.
| DemFromCT :: Get Your Flu Shot
|It's mid-September and time to prepare for the upcoming flu season. If Australia is any indication, it could get nasty. That's not a prediction, of course... there's a lot that's unpredictable about flu from season to season.
Who Should Get Vaccinated
In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, it is recommended by ACIP that certain people should get vaccinated each year. They are either people who are at high risk of having serious flu complications or people who live with or care for those at high risk for serious complications. During flu seasons when vaccine supplies are limited or delayed, ACIP makes recommendations regarding priority groups for vaccination.
People who should get vaccinated each year are:
People at high risk for complications from the flu, including:
- Children aged 6 months until their 5th birthday
- Pregnant women
- People 50 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
- People who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
- Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu (see above)
- Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
- Healthcare workers.
Flu vaccines may not work as perfectly as we'd like, particularly in the elderly, but the preponderance of the evidence is that they are effective enough to justify their widespread use.
From year to year, high risk populations including children and health care workers do not get vaccinated at very high rates (35% of HCW get vaccinated, which, frankly, is embarrassingly low.) From the AP:
"Flu is a formidable foe," Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday. "It is not an illness we should be complacent about."Talk to your health care provider or contact your local public health agency for more information. Children under the age of 9 may need two shots, one month apart. And getting back to Australia:
But new CDC data show only a fraction of people who need flu shots the most get them, including just one in five babies and toddlers. And there's wide geographic variation, with Rhode Island reporting the most high-risk adults vaccinated and Nevada the fewest.
Shots aren't the only option. Wednesday, the government ruled that it's safe for younger kids than ever before to try a nasal-spray vaccine called FluMist. Once only an option for people ages 5 to 49, FluMist now can be used by children as young as 2.
Perhaps of more concern, CDC is closely monitoring whether a new strain that emerged near the end of Australia's flu season will cause illness here - a strain that this year's vaccine doesn't specifically target.Oh, and for those of you paying attention, cross-protection might (I say might) be useful for - er - other strains of flu, too.
Each year's vaccine contains protection against three influenza strains - two Type A strains, an H1N1 and an H3N2 version, plus a milder Type B - that experts predict will cause the most illness. The vaccine isn't always a perfect match, and this year's contains a different H3N2 version than the newly emerging one, nicknamed H3N2/Brisbane-like.
Get vaccinated anyway, Gerberding stressed. The other two strains in the vaccine are causing illness around the world, and even if the newer one travels here, too, the vaccine should provide some cross-protection.
So, talk to your doctor or health care provider, and while you are at it, ask them if they got their flu shot this year.