Saturday, October 13, 2007

Flu Shot Season is Here

Flu shots are usually about 70% successful in preventing flu. Flu shots do not give 100% protection, but they do make it much harder for you to catch the flu for about 6 months. It is usually recommended that you get a flu shot in October or November, so it is definitely time to find a place to get flu shots for your family. Deliveries of flu shots usually continue through November and into December, so even doctors and clinics who don't have any flu shots right now, might get some soon. The flu shots are not just for people at risk of dying from the flu, they are for anyone who wants to avoid a week of misery, pain and discomfort.

Flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Flu is a respiratory infection, that is, an infection that develops primarily in the lungs. If you want to avoid catching influenza this season, we recommend that you get a flu shot. About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection develop in the body. Testing has shown that both the flu shot and the nasal-spray vaccine are effective at preventing the flu.

Vaccine

The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on international surveillance and scientists' estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year. The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on the age and health status of the person getting the vaccine, and the similarity or "match" between the virus strains in the vaccine and those in circulation. To produce a good response, the first year that they get it, children under nine years of age need two doses of the vaccine given at least one month apart. If you are searching for access to the vaccine immediately, we recommend contacting your doctor of local department of health for more information. Keep in mind that if your doctor has a limited supply of flu vaccine, then he or she might reserve it for priority patients only and not give it to healthy children who are not in a high risk group.

People with asthma and other lung diseases should always get a flu shot, without exception. Seniors who get flu shots significantly reduce their risk of death or hospitalization. Older children with high risk medical conditions are also recommended to receive the flu shot annually. Flu shot reactions or side effects are usually mild, and may include soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given, fever, and/or aches, and usually only last for 1-2 days. To improve the levels of vaccinations, the CDC is recommending getting a shot as soon as the vaccine is available in the coming weeks.

There are many well-respected health experts who believe that the number of people coming down with the flu would be drastically reduced if flu shots weren’t administered. Studies have shown that flu shots stir up protective antibodies quite readily in young people, but the protective effect tends to decrease with age. Flu shots however are still considered to be the best prevention available today.

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