The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults, children and babies older than 6 months get vaccinated against this year’s influenza (flu) strains. This year’s vaccine is made from a combination of three inactivated (killed)—two influenza A viruses, H1N1 and H3N2, and an influenza B virus.
The latest FluView Report by the CDC showed that flu activity was high in 26 states and in New York City. Further, 47 states reported widespread geographic influenza activity. Since January there have been a high number of patient visits to doctors’ offices for flu relief. Most of the hospitalizations have been in seniors 65 years old and older. Pneumonia is a serious consequence of flu.
The CDC estimates that between 5% and 20% of the US population get the flu each year; it is fatal in approximately 36,000 cases. Although flu peaks in January and February, epidemics still occur in late spring. The CDC is predicting that the virus will linger through the end of March.
If you haven’t been vaccinated against the flu this year, there is still time. “We are particularly encouraging people who haven’t gotten vaccinated to do it,” said Dr. Melinda Wharton, acting director of the CDC’s Center for Immunization and Respiratory DiseasesThe vaccine is critical for: pregnant women, children under 5 years old, seniors and people with chronic health conditions, particularly asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Just remember that it takes two weeks after you are vaccinated for your immune system to produce enough antibodies to protect your body.
For more information on the flu, visit the US Department of Health & Human Services Web site.