BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - This holiday season, remember it's not too late to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu.
Don't fall for the myth that it's too late to vaccinate against the flu once the Thanksgiving holidays are over. As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination can provide protection against the flu. According to the latest CDC Flu activity report, influenza levels are currently increasing across the country. And since flu activity doesn't usually peak until February in the United States and can last as late as May, it's important to vaccinate now if you haven't already.
An Annual Flu Vaccine for Everyone 6 Months of Age and Older
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. A flu vaccine offers the best protection we have against this serious disease. Once vaccinated, it takes about 2 weeks for the body's immune response to fully kick in.
There are certain people who are at high-risk of developing serious flu-related complications:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People 65 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease)
Learn more about who is at high risk of serious complications from flu because of age or other medical conditions.
In addition, there are other people for whom vaccination is especially important:
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
- Health care workers
- Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
- Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Some Children May Need 2 Doses of Flu Vaccine
CDC wants to remind parents, guardians and caregivers of children not only about the importance of flu vaccination in general, but also of the fact that some children 6 months through 8 years of age require two doses of influenza vaccine to be fully protected. Children in this age group who are getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses of vaccine, spaced at least 28 days apart. Some children who have received influenza vaccine previously will also need two doses. Your child's health care provider can tell you if your child needs two doses.
Flu Vaccine: You've Got Choices
This year, there's no excuse not to get a flu vaccine. Flu vaccine is still available and there are more choices than ever, both in terms of where to get vaccinated and what type of vaccine to get. Flu vaccines are safe, and cannot give you the flu.
There are two types of flu vaccines:
The "flu shot"—an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. There are three different flu shots available:
- A regular flu shot approved for people ages 6 months and older
- A high-dose flu shot approved for people 65 and older, and
- An intradermal flu shot approved for people 18 to 64 years of age. (An intradermal shot is injected into the skin instead of the muscle, and uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot.)
- The nasal-spray flu vaccine—a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that is given as a nasal spray (sometimes called LAIV for "Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine"). LAIV is approved for use in healthy* people ages 2 through 49 years who are not pregnant.
In addition to your doctor's office, there are various locations in your community where flu vaccine is available, like your pharmacy, grocery store or local health department. Go to the Flu Vaccine Finder and type in your zip code to find flu vaccine locations near you.
If you're not sure or have questions about what vaccine to get, talk with your doctor or health care provider. Check CDC's complete list of who should and shouldn't get vaccinated to learn more.
Over the years, hundreds of millions of Americans have received flu vaccines safely. Once vaccinated, you can enjoy this holiday season knowing that you have taken the single best step to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu. It's not too late—get your flu vaccine today!
Information provided by the CDC.