Clinica Sierra Vista WIC

YES, MOM, YOU NEED A FLU SHOT, TOO.


We're all so busy taking care of our families that we sometimes forget to take care of the one who does all that running around and caregiving. So let me be a (sweet) nag for just a moment and ask: Have you had your flu shot? Flu season starts to peak in November and continues through April. You'll want to get your vaccine as soon as possible to allow your body time to build up immunity before the flu season hits big time.

U.S. government officials are urging everyone ages 6 months and over to get the vaccine. This recommendation represents a break from past years, when the government focused on vaccinating people in certain "high-risk" groups and those in contact with people at high risk. This year's vaccine protects against H1N1 and two other strains of seasonal flu.

Too busy? Well, what happens to all that carpooling, homework help, and grocery shopping if you're sick in bed with a fever? "The message is simple now," says David Weber, M.D., professor of medicine, pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "If you're more than 6 months of age, get the vaccine."

"In an average year, there are more than 200,000 hospitalizations and more than 35,000 deaths from flu. Many of those would be preventable by simply getting the flu shot," says Weber. "Flu shots are far and away the best way for preventing flu."

People should receive the vaccine every year as soon as it becomes available, says Weber. "It's important every year. This year it may be more important, because anybody who didn't get H1N1 last year is susceptible to it. Since that was the first year H1N1 was around, many people, if not most people, are susceptible."

The vaccine is reformulated each year to provide protection against the virus strains that present the greatest public health threat for that year. People who contracted H1N1 last year may have a lower chance of contracting it again this year, but they still should receive the vaccine for protection against seasonal flu.

Adults need only one dose of the vaccine. Children 6 months to 8 years old may need two doses, depending on which vaccines they received last year. Ask your doctor.

The vaccine will be available at doctor's offices and at many pharmacies as both a nasal spray and as a shot. The shot is recommended for people younger than 2, older than 49, and those with a suppressed immune system. The nasal spray is appropriate for most other healthy people. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.

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