News on Wellness

Flu Shots Effective for People Six Months and Older

free-cheap-flu-shotsDr. Thomas Frieden, Director for the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that flu shots and vaccines are not only effective but also safe for anyone six months or older. US health officials stated that less than 50% of people in the United States received a flu shot in 2013, to include people in the age range hit hardest, 18 to 64.

With flu season fast approaching, everyone who is at least six months of age is being encouraged to get vaccinated. People affected end up losing time off from work, as well as school. Many of the symptoms associated with the flu can be prevented, along with hospitalizations and in severe cases, death, simply by getting the flu vaccination.

Experts state that more than 100 children died in 2013 because of flu-related complications and the majority of those deaths could have been avoided with a simply flu vaccination. According to Dr. Friedman, 90% of the children who lost their lives last year because of the flu were not vaccinated.

Dr. Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia supports Dr. Friedman’s claims, stating that children do die every year because of the flu. He says the hardest part for him is listening to grieving parents cry out in disbelief yet most of these deaths are preventable.

Overall, just 46% of Americans received a flu shot last year. Of these, 42% were adults while 59% were children. As reported in the most recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the greatest coverage was children under the age of five and adults 65 years and older.

For children between two and eight years of age, the CDC recommends the public to get the nasal spray vaccine, which is super quick and easy. However, if the spray is unavailable, rather than do without these children should go ahead and get the flu shot.

On a positive note, Dr. Laura Riley, director of labor and delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital said that slightly more than 50% of pregnant women got flu shots over the past few years. This is obviously important since pregnant women are far more susceptible to severe complications associated with the flu. For one thing, the mother is protected from illness but in addition, the baby in its first six months of life is protected by the mother’s vaccination.

There are two groups with the highest rates of flu vaccination to include healthcare workers at 75% and doctors, as well as nurses at 90%. Dr. William Schaffner, former president of the National Foundation for Infectious Disease, reminds people that influenza is always evolving and therefore, it is unpredictable.

For this reason, anyone six months and older should be vaccinated against the flu. For the upcoming flu season, which typically runs from October into March, there will be approximately 150 million doses available in the United States, which is more than vaccinations available last year.

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