CDC Urges Vaccination for Flu Season

National Influenza Vaccination Week took place from December 4th to the 10th, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took advantage of this opportunity by stressing the importance flu vaccinations.

National Influenza Vaccination Week took place from December 4th to the 10th, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took advantage of this opportunity by stressing the importance flu vaccinations.

“Influenza is a serious and unpredictable disease,” reported Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the US Department of Health and Human Services. “It’s not too late to vaccinate.”

“Influenza activity in the United States does not typically peak until January or February, and influenza activity was low as of the third week in November,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease.

According to Schuchat, roughly 36%, or 111 million eligible Americans, have already been given the flu shot this year.

The CDC urged the American public to take advantage of the accessibility of vaccines, which are available at neighboring medical offices, grocery stores, and pharmacies like Rite-Aid and Walgreens. Many of these places accept walk-ins for the flu vaccine.

The CDC recommends that the most important step that Americans over the age of six months can take to protect themselves against flu viruses is to be vaccinated; the vaccine defends the body against the three most common strains. The 2011-2012 vaccine will also protect against the influenza A H3N2 virus, influenza B virus, and the H1N1 virus that caused a pandemic in 2009.

Family members and care takers should be vaccinated to protect children under the age of six months, who are too young to receive the vaccine.

Officials also strongly recommend vaccination for high risk individuals, such as children, pregnant women, sufferers of chronic health conditions (asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease), and people 65 years and older. Health care workers and other individuals who live with or take care of high-risk patients should also be vaccinated in order to decrease the possibility of spreading the flu.

Other steps, however, should be taken to decrease the risk of passing along flu virus germs, such as covering the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or coughing and sneezing into the crook of the elbow instead of a bare hand. Frequent hand washing and sanitizing is also important, as is avoiding close contact with sick people.

Finally, the CDC urged anyone who is sick with flu-like illness to stay confined to the home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, with the exception of seeking and receiving medical care. By limiting exposure to others, the risk of spreading the infection will be decreased.