CDC: Get Your Flu Shot

FILE PHOTO: Vaccination

More than one-third of United States residents have already been vaccinated against the influenza virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday. With National Influenza Vaccination Week, which started last Sunday and ends Saturday, health officials aim to increase that percentage, especially since this year’s season may be a bad one.

Influenza—more commonly known as simply “the flu”—is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses infecting the nose, throat and lungs. It spreads via infected people coughing, sneezing or talking, though people can also get infected by touching something with the flu virus on it before touching their mouth, eyes or nose.

The 2012-2013 season is shaping up to be one of the worst flu seasons in a while, officials from the CDC said in a teleconference Monday. There have been a larger number of suspected flu cases than usual in five Southern states, and this year’s strain may be more virulent. Already, two children have died of the illness.

A similar flu virus struck during the 2003-2004 season, killing more than 48,000 people in one of the most lethal seasons in the past 35 years. Nevertheless, this year’s vaccination appears to be better matched to the virus.

“It looks like it’s shaping up to be a bad flu season, but only time will tell,” CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said.

So far, California and surrounding states have not reported regional or widespread flu activity; however, a jump in the number of influenza cases usually doesn’t occur until after Christmas.

“Flu season typically peaks in February and can last as late as May,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service and Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a news release. “We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated now.”

More than 200,000 people each year are hospitalized due to complications from the flu, according to the CDC.

Symptoms of the flu include muscle or body aches, headaches, cough, sore throat, fatigue, fever or chills, and vomiting and diarrhea (the latter two are more common in kids). The flu can also worsen chronic medical conditions or cause death.

People are contagious a day before symptoms appear and up to a week after getting sick.

The CDC recommends getting annual vaccines as early as possible, as it takes a few weeks to reach full immunity.

As part of the campaign to vaccinate more people against the influenza virus, the CDC is sponsoring a daily blog on About.com until Friday and will host a Twitter chat Wednesday from 10-11 a.m. Pacific Time.

During the Twitter chat, influenza expert Dr. Mike Jhung will be on hand to answer questions about the flu and the vaccine. People can submit questions and follow the chat using the hashtag #NIVW2012.

Vaccines often cost $20-$30; however, they are often covered by insurance.

Flu shots are an inactivated vaccine made from killed virus, which means it’s impossible to get the flu from the vaccine, according to Dr. Angela Rasmussen, an infectious disease expert.

There are currently three flu shots being produced in the U.S.: the regular (intramuscular) seasonal flu shot, a high-dose vaccine for people 65 and older, and an intradermal (injected into the skin) vaccine for people ages 18 to 64.

In addition, a nasal-spray flu vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses (which also do not cause the flu) is available to healthy people ages 2 to 49 years old, except pregnant women.

The most common side effect from a flu shot is soreness at the injection site.

Even those who think they don’t need a flu shot should get one anyway, according to Jack Cantlin, a pharmacist and the divisional vice president of retail clinical services at Walgreens. It’s possible to contract the virus and carry it without being sick.

The elderly, young children, pregnant women and nursing home residents are at greater risk for serious complications from the flu. People with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and chronic lung disease—as well as those who work with them—are also at risk.

“People at high risk should talk with their doctor about getting a high-dose 
flu shot, as this can provide better protection for people with immune
 systems that have been weakened by age or other medical conditions,” Rasmussen said.

People with severe chicken egg allergies, a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome, and those who have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past should consult their doctor before getting a flu shot, and those who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until they are well. Babies under six months of age should not get a flu shot.

—Melanie Rosen contributed to this report.


5 Comments

  • crazyx4xhorses

    How long does it take the depo shot to get out of the body in order to get pregnant?
    I have only had two shots and im not planning on getting the next shot because me and my husband want a child my shot will be up at the end of may when would be the ideal time to try to get pregnant?

  • Mia Teresa B

    That is a hard one. I took forever to get preg with my second after being on the depo for just a couple of years. But a cousins wife got preg the next month after not taking the shot. So it really depends on your body.
    References :

  • 4th boy due 8/12/08

    I was on it 5 yrs and it took almost 2yrs to get preg. I was told it takes 1 yr to get completly out of your system.
    References :

  • Mommyto2

    I too wondered this when I got off from my third shot of Depo as my husband and I wanted to have a 2nd child.
    After my last shot it took my body 15 months to get a normal period routine, where I was ovulating regularly and having a consistent cycle. After my cycle got on track it took us 3 more months to conceive number 2. So a total of 18 months before we finally got that BFP.
    My doctor told me that it can take any where from 3 months to 2 years to get the shot completely out of your system. The average being about a year. I only had 3 injections and it took my body 15 months to get it out.
    But my sister n law got pregnant 3 months after her last injection wore off. It all depends on the woman.
    Good luck and just keep trying and it will happen that is what I did!! But I will never take the shot again.
    References :
    Mother of 2 and TTC # 3

  • desperate for #2

    After being on the depo for eleven year i can answer any depo question you have.I should have been their poster child.I am 31 and TTC #2 on the internet I have found it can take up to 12 months for you to start a regular cycle with Ovulation, and up to eighteen month to conceive!Good news is there are no known cases of infertility after the depo shot.Just long waiting when trying to conceive.My advice is if you ever get back on birth control steer away from the depo.It has been a very long, hard road for me and my hubby.Frustration is taking over!Good luck and Baby Dust to you
    References :

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