As temperatures begin to fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone six months and older get vaccinated against influenza. The vaccination is usually given as an injection and is commonly called a “ flu shot.”
Unlike last year, when two shots were necessary for maximum protection, this year’ s flu vaccine is given in a single dose and protects against the 2009-2010 H1N1 virus in addition to two other viruses that scientists determined would be prevalent during the upcoming flu season.
The CDC says that the following groups should get a flu shot, either because they come into contact with people who are at high risk for contracting serious flu-related complications, or are themselves are at high risk for contracting serious flu-related complications:
- People 50 years of age and over
- People with chronic medical conditions
- People who live in long term care facilities
- Pregnant women and children under the age of 5 – especially children under the age of 2
- People who come into contact with persons at high risk for developing serious complications for the flu
If you come into contact with a loved one who is elderly or has a chronic illness, it is especially important that you get a flu shot.
The CDC recommends that people with a severe allergy to chicken eggs, people who have developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome within six weeks of getting a flu vaccine, people who have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine, children under six months of age and people with a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever should not get a flu shot.
A flu season usually peaks in January but can start as early as October. Since the vaccine is usually effective about two weeks after vaccination, vaccinations can begin as early as September.
You can find a local flu clinic at the CDC website. If you have any questions about the flu shot, you can check out the CDC’ s website at www.flu.gov for more information.