September 28, 2012
Flu Season Is Upon Us, Time To Get Vaccinated
Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
As the air gets chillier and the leaves start to change colors, you know it´s flu season, and that can only mean one thing - flu shots. Various health groups are urging individuals in the U.S. to seek out flu vaccinations as a defense against getting sick this season.
In a report by Reuters, over 85 million doses of the vaccine have already been given out. There are a total of around 135 million doses available according to non-profit National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. Health organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics are encouraging individuals to get vaccinated. They also recommend coughing into the elbow and hand washing as methods to reduce the risk of being infected by the flu.
"When it comes to flu, we can't look to the past to predict the future," Howard Koh, the assistant health secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, commented in a news conference.
As well, according to the Associated Press, a new report found that babies and toddlers are getting vaccinated more so than others. Individuals are recommended to obtain the flu shot but only 39 percent of adults were immunized, as compared to 52 percent of children. Furthermore, approximately 75 percent of toddlers between six to 23 months were vaccinated. There was an increase of 68 percent of children immunized this year as compared to last. Only babies younger than six months and people who have serious allergies related to the eggs used to make the vaccination are recommended to not take the shot.
The previous year´s flu shot won´t work, as two new strains of influenza have been identified and the new vaccine can defend against them.
"People cannot become complacent this year," Koh told the Associated Press.
Along with the public requests to get the flu vaccination, the U.S. Centers for Control of Disease and Protection (CDC) recently published its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). It offers statistics regarding influenza vaccinations based on an Internet survey that was completed this past April via e-mails and pop-up information. In one part of the report, the researchers detail vaccination coverage by occupation; physicians had the highest rate of coverage (85.6 percent), followed by nurses (77.9 percent), and then other health care personnel (62.8 percent). Those who did not seek the flu vaccination note that they felt that they didn´t need it, they were concerned about the effectiveness of the vaccine, and they wanted to know the side effects of the vaccination. The report encouraged that there be widespread implementation of the flu vaccination strategies to lower the risk of medical care associated with contracting the flu.
Regarding pregnant females, the MMWR stated that 47 percent reported that they had received the flu vaccination in the 2011-2012 season. The reported noted that pregnant females and their newborns are more susceptible to hospitalization and death related to the flu. According to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), women who were pregnant during the influenza season should obtain the flu vaccination.
“Continued efforts are needed to encourage providers of medical care to routinely recommend and offer influenza vaccination to women who are pregnant or who might become pregnant,” wrote the authors in the MMWR.