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National Influenza Vaccination Week to be observed this week

Dec. 08, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HURRICANE -- This week, Dec. 8 through Dec. 14, is National Influenza Vaccination Week, a national observance established to highlight the importance of influenza vaccination.

According to the West Virginia Immunization Network, a program of the Center for Rural Health Development, annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu and its related complications that could result in severe illness, hospitalization or death.

Health experts across the country recommend that everyone six months and older get vaccinated.

A common respiratory disease, influenza is particularly dangerous for people with certain long-term health conditions that put them at high risk of suffering from serious complications.

During the last flu season, about nine of 10 adults hospitalized with the flu had a long-term health condition, as did more than half of the children who were hospitalized with the flu.

Elaine W. Darling, program manager of the West Virginia Immunization Network, said the best way to prevent the flu among people with asthma, diabetes, chronic heart disease and other conditions is to ensure that they and the people around them are vaccinated.

Because pregnancy can reduce the ability of the lungs and immune system to work normally, pregnant women also have a higher risk of complications.

Babies younger than six months can also get very sick from the flu, but they are too young to get the vaccine. The best way to protect them is to ensure that their caregivers and close contacts are vaccinated, and for their mother to get the flu shot during pregnancy.

The flu shot -- not the nasal spray -- is recommended for pregnant women during any trimester and children between six months and 2 years.

The flu vaccine is available at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, 703 7th Ave., weekdays 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for anyone who lives, works or volunteers in Huntington or Cabell County. No appointment is necessary. Registration forms and more information about the flu vaccine are available at cabellhealth.org.

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