12/5/2013 12:56:00 PM It's Not Too Late to Vaccinate - Get Your Flu Shot Today!
After November when you see signs that advertise: "Get Your Flu Vaccine Here," you might think, "Isn't it too late for that?" The answer is no, it's not too late! National Influenza Vaccination Week is December 8-14.
"In Oklahoma, flu season typically peaks in January or February and can last as late as May," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline. "We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated this flu season to get vaccinated now."
For millions of people every season, the flu can mean a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States from flu complications each year. Also, the flu can be deadly.
Flu-associated deaths in the United States can range from 3,000 to about 49,000, depending on the severity of the flu season. This is why the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. It is available as a shot and as a nasal spray.
There are many flu vaccine options to choose from including: a flu shot that protects against three flu viruses, a shot that protects against four flu viruses, an intradermal flu shot (for adults 18 through 64 years of age), an egg-free shot (for adults 18 through 49 years of age), and a high-dose flu shot (for people 65 and older). The nasal spray vaccine, which protects against four flu viruses, is approved only for use in healthy people ages 2 to 49 years who aren't pregnant. Talk with your health care provider about the different vaccine options if you have questions, or visit this CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm.
Anyone can get the flu, but some people are at greater risk for serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia, that can lead to hospitalization and even death. For those people, getting the flu vaccine is especially important. People at greater risk include, but are not limited to:
Children younger than 5 years old, and especially children younger than 2 years old Pregnant women People 65 years and older People with certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease
Ask your health care provider if members of your family are at a greater risk for flu complications. If you care for anyone at high risk, including babies younger than 6 months because they are too young to get the vaccine, then you should get vaccinated.
Children 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting vaccinated for the first time need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected. If a child has not received his or her first dose, get them vaccinated now. Parents should check with the child's health care provider to see if a second dose is needed.
"Getting the flu vaccine is simple, and it is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, visits to your health care provider, missed work due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. Millions of people have safely received flu vaccines for decades," Cline said.
Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including health care provider offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers. They are also offered by many employers, and in some schools.
So next time you see a sign that says, "Get Your Flu Vaccine Here," stop in and get your flu vaccine or make an appointment with your health care provider. Use the Flu Vaccine Finder at http://flushot.healthmap.org to find a location near you.
If cost is a concern, many insurance plans cover flu vaccination with no co-pay as a free preventive service. Check with your local health department or health care provider about their clinic hours and fees. For more information about influenza or the flu vaccine visit www.health.ok.gov