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It's not too late to get a flu shot

Dec. 07, 2012 @ 07:13 AM

With warm days popping up during the first week of December, the winter flu season may not be top of mind.

But health officials this week reported they are seeing flu activity earlier this year, and there are indications this flu season could be worse than normal. So, if you have forgotten to get a flu shot, now is the time to do it.

Although flu vaccines are more readily available than ever, only about a third of Americans have been vaccinated so far this fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But the CDC and other health groups are doing special promotions this week to remind the public that it is not too late to get a shot.

The idea that getting vaccinated after Thanksgiving is ineffective is just an urban myth, health officials say.

Already several southern states — Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas — have experienced high flu numbers, and cases have been confirmed in 48 states.

Kentucky and Ohio have seen more activity in recent weeks, and the uptick in West Virginia has been even more recent.

“We saw about a threefold increase in one week,” Brandon Merritt, the Ka


Nationally, both Type A influenza (H3N2 and 2009 H1N1) and Type B viruses have been reported, but more of the cases are H3N2, which is typical of more severe flu seasons. But this year’s vaccine seems to be a good match for fighting that virus, health officials say.

Health officials say everyone over the age of 6 months should get a shot, but they remind the public several groups are at higher risk for infection and complications. Those include:

n Pregnant women.

n Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old.

n People 65 years of age and older.

n People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.

Vaccines are available at county health departments, many drug stores, and of course, your doctor’s office. The CDC stresses that flu shots do not cause flu, and the worst side effect is likely to be a sore arm. Also, for those who really dislike shots, the nasal-spray flu vaccine is approved for healthy people ages 2-49 who are not pregnant.

Particularly this year, it is important to you and those around you to get your flu vaccine.

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