It is National Influenza Vaccination Week. New statistics show people are getting better about getting their flu shots.
According to the CDC, about 36% of adults got their flu shot by early November. This is a modest improvement over 34% last year, which means that more than 100 million adults have been vaccinated. The numbers are even better for children! About 37% have gotten their shots, compared to 31% last year. In addition, around 43% of pregnant women have been vaccinated, along with 2/3 of people over the age of 65!
This year’s annual flu shot is unique. It will offer protection against the pandemic H1N1 flu (swine flu) virus, in addition to two seasonal influenza viruses that are expected to be in circulation for the fall and winter.
How effective is the flu shot? Even in years where the flu vaccine is a very good match for the flu strains that emerge, it may not be more than 70% effective. But, it is still extremely worth getting!
It is not too late to get your flu shot! Even though it takes a few weeks to build optimal immunity, the flu season doesn’t peak until February and can last until May. If you haven’t been vaccinated, get to a clinic or call your doctor as soon as possible. Around the wintertime, especially for holidays, people are clustered together, making it easier to pass germs back and forth. Don’t delay; get protection.
People who are most at risk are young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions like asthma. That being said, the CDC continues to recommend that all people over the age of 6 months get vaccinated.
Don’t get a flu shot, however, if you’ve had a bad reaction to the vaccine in the past. If you’re really sick with a fever, for example, do not receive the vaccine. It is generally not recommended for people who have severe allergies to chicken eggs, but people with mild allergies to eggs may still be eligible to receive the vaccine.
The vaccine cannot give you the flu. This is a myth that needs to be debunked. You might, however, develop mild reactions to the shot like muscle aches, pain at the injection site, and even a low-grade fever. Also, many people get other viruses, or even the Flu, before the vaccine has taken effect. Do not mistakenly believe the vaccine has caused the infection.
Lower your risk of getting the flu. Whether you get vaccinated or not, you should still wash your hands thoroughly and as often as possible with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer on your hands. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth whenever possible, and avoid crowds when the flu is most prevalent in your area.
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