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CDC Recommends Annual Flu Vaccine for 2014-2015 Season

Dr. Joseph Bresee is Chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in the Influenza Division, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and is a captain in the United States Public Health Service. This Branch is responsible for conducting influenza surveillance; working to understand influenza disease burden; helping to derive appropriate seasonal influenza vaccine and antiviral use policies; detecting and preventing avian influenza and pandemic influenza; and providing technical expertise to global public health partners. He has led the Branch since 2005.

It’s September, and soon after kids are back in school and the feeling of fall is in the air comes the start of influenza (flu) season. Now is the ideal time for public health and healthcare professionals, like you, to get your annual flu vaccination and to recommend the same to your colleagues, family members, and patients. CDC recommends getting vaccinated soon after the vaccine is available, ideally by October. Doing so helps ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu starts circulating in your community.

As a medical or public health professional, it is essential that you have conversations with your patients and those you serve to remind them of the importance of vaccination. As a trusted messenger, research shows that your recommendation for yearly flu vaccination and your action to get yourself vaccinated are vital to an individual’s decision to get vaccinated. Even if you do not have vaccine to offer, you should make the recommendation and refer people to the vaccine finder.

CDC recommends that everyone six months and older get an annual flu vaccination to help prevent the spread of flu viruses. Here’s why:

  1. The composition of the flu vaccine may be updated from one season to the next to keep up with constantly changing flu viruses. Even in years when the composition does not change, new flu vaccine is manufactured every season.
  2. Immunity from vaccination declines over time.
  3. You can spread the flu to others before you know you have it. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick.
  4. Coughs and sneezes can spread flu to others who are up to six feet away. Even if you don’t have direct contact with someone who has flu, you can still come in contact with the virus.

Anyone can get very sick from the flu, including people who are otherwise healthy. Flu is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. The following groups of people are at high risk of developing serious complications from flu: seniors 65 and older; pregnant women; people with chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer; and children under the age of 5.

For the complete blog post provided on the Public Health Foundation website, please visit: http://www.phf.org/phfpulse/Pages/Time_for_a_Flu_Vaccine_Get_It_and_Recommend_It.aspx