This season, National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) takes place from December 6-12th, 2015. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established NIVW in 2005 to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination through the holiday season and beyond. All around the country, NIVW events including press briefings and media interviews, health fairs, traditional and digital flu vaccine promotions, and educational opportunities will emphasize the importance of flu vaccination.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu!
As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination can still provide protection against the flu. Flu activity typically peaks in February in the United States, and the season can last as late as May. While there’s still time to benefit from a flu vaccine, the sooner you get vaccinated, the more likely you are to be protected against the flu when activity picks up in your community. View the map with a weekly update on flu activity within the U.S.
Who Needs a Flu Vaccine?
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal flu viruses. A flu vaccine offers the best protection against this serious disease. Once vaccinated, it takes about 2 weeks for the body’s immune response to fully kick in.
Are You at High Risk?
There are certain people who are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications that can lead to hospitalization or even death. Pneumonia and bronchitis are two examples of flu-related complications. Those at high risk include:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People 65 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease)
If you are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications, you should get vaccinated. Those who live with or care for you should also be vaccinated to help protect you.
A full list of people at high risk of serious complications from flu because of age or other medical conditions is available at the CDC Flu website.
In addition, there are other people for whom vaccination is especially important:
- 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:
- Health care workers
- Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
- Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Some Children Need 2 Doses of Flu Vaccine
NIVW serves as a reminder to parents, guardians and caregivers of children that some children 6 months through 8 years of age need two doses of influenza vaccine to be fully protected this season. Children in this age group who are getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses of vaccine, spaced at least 28 days apart. Some children who have received influenza vaccine in prior seasons will also need two doses. Your child’s doctor or other health care professional can tell you if your child needs two doses.
The Flu Vaccine–You’ve Got Choices!
There are several flu vaccine options for the 2015-2016 flu season.
Traditional flu vaccines made to protect against three different flu viruses (called “trivalent” vaccines) are available. In addition, flu vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines) also are available. CDC does not recommend one flu vaccine over another. Vaccination should not be delayed, even if an option is not available. The important thing is to get a flu vaccine every year.
The trivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and an influenza B virus. The following trivalent flu vaccines are available:
- Standard dose trivalent shots that are manufactured using virus grown in eggs. These are approved for people ages 6 months and older. There are different brands of this type of vaccine, and each is approved for different ages. However, there is a brand that is approved for children as young as 6 months old and up. Most flu shots are given with a needle. One flu vaccine can be given with a jet injector , for persons aged 18 through 64 years.
- A standard dose trivalent shot containing virus grown in cell culture, which is approved for people 18 and older.
- A standard dose trivalent shot that is egg-free, approved for people 18 and older.
- A high-dose trivalent shot, approved for people 65 and older.
- A standard dose intradermal trivalent shot, which is injected into the skin instead of the muscle and uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot, approved for people 18 through 64 years of age.
The quadrivalent flu vaccine protects against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. The following quadrivalent flu vaccines are available:
- A standard dose quadrivalent shot.
- A standard dose quadrivalent flu vaccine, given as a nasal spray , approved for people 2 through 49 years of age
(*”Healthy” in this instance refers to children 2 years through 8 years old who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.)
In addition to your doctor’s office, there are various locations in your community where flu vaccine is available, like your pharmacy, grocery store or local health department. Use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find flu vaccine locations near you.
If you’re not sure or have questions about which vaccine to get, talk with your doctor or health care professional. For a complete list of who should and should not get vaccinated, visit Guidelines for Flu Vaccination.
Over the years, hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines. Once vaccinated, you can enjoy this holiday season knowing that you have taken the single best step to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu.
Get vaccinated today, and help spread the word by taking a flu vaccination selfie photo or video, tagging your post with #VaxWithMe, and then post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and/or YouTube. All selfies appropriately tagged will be displayed on CDC’s interactive #VaxWithMe timeline.
Source: State of California Contractors State License Board, “Fight the Flu!” http://www.cdc.gov/ website. Accessed January 27, 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/features/fighttheflu/
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