National Influenza Vaccination Week

Last week was National Influenza Vaccination Week, a perfect reminder that it is not too late to get your flu shot. Statistics from the last couple of weeks show the flu season is in full force, but this doesn’t mean you can’t still get the flu vaccine.  As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “It’s not too late to vaccinate!”

Flu Shots
It's not too late to get your flu shot! As the CDC says, “It’s not too late to vaccinate!”

Early Flu Season
An early flu season is already upon us with 48 states and Puerto Rico reporting cases of influenza, and cases across the country are rapidly increasing. In fact, influenza-like-illness (ILI) activity levels have already exceeded the whole of last flu season. Indeed, 2012-2013 is set to be a bad flu year.

The influenza vaccine is not just recommended for the elderly or the young. Anyone, young or old, healthy or sick, can contract the virus and suffer common symptoms of the flu: a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, chills, and fatigue, and end up bed-ridden for several days. Bad cases of the flu can result in hospitalization, and, if you think the flu cannot cause death, think again; there have been two pediatric deaths already this season. Shockingly, 3,000 to 49,000 people die from flu-related complications annually. Moreover, each year, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States alone from flu complications. During a bad season, numbers could be worse, and early signs show that this is going to be a bad flu season indeed.

Everyone Should Get a Flu Shot
Even if you don’t believe you’re likely to get the flu, it’s important that everyone over the age of 6 months receive a flu shot, and that you get your flu shot each and every year.  Hundreds of millions of people have already safely received influenza vaccines.  Remember, it is especially important for those over the age of 65 to get vaccinated since this age group is at a high risk for serious flu complications. Children, whose immune systems are not fully developed, are also a high-risk group. Remember, if you care for anyone within these high-risk groups, it is also important that you also receive a flu vaccine to decrease the likelihood of passing the virus along to those you take care of.

Despite flu season getting off to an early start, it really is not too late to vaccinate. Last season was a mild one, but don’t let this lull you into a false sense of security. Influenza Like Illness levels this season are already so high that 2012-2013 is being compared to the severe 2003-2004 season and the H1N1 pandemic of 2009. Both of these intense past flu seasons hit early, as the current one has.

Get Your Flu Vaccine Now!
By getting your flu vaccine before infection levels reach a critical level in your community, you are helping to protect yourself, your family, and your community as a whole. Now is the best time to get your flu shot because it can take up to 2 weeks for your body to respond to the vaccine and develop peak protective antibody levels. Don’t leave your health to chance – get your flu shot today!

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