By Norman H. Edelman, M.D.
Many Americans associate influenza with the fall, but you may be surprised to learn that during many flu seasons, influenza activity doesn’t peak until winter or early spring. In fact, virus activity peaked in February or later in approximately half of the past 35 flu seasons.
That is why the American Lung Association is spreading the message about the importance of influenza vaccination throughout the winter months and beyond as part of its Faces of Influenza campaign. Everyone 6 months of age and older is recommended for annual immunization, which is safe and effective and the best way to help prevent influenza.
With vaccination recommended and beneficial into the winter months, make it your New Year’s resolution to get immunized—it’s not too late, and you’ll be helping to protect your health and those around you in one simple and achievable step. After being immunized, it takes about two weeks for the body to develop a protective response to the flu vaccine. Parents—don’t forget that children 6 months through 8 years of age receiving a flu shot for the first time need two doses approximately one month apart for optimal protection.
We are all ‘faces’ of influenza and are recommended by public health officials to get vaccinated this and every year. There’s still time for family members of all generations to help protect themselves from this potentially deadly disease through immunization.
Influenza is a serious respiratory illness that kills thousands annually in the U.S. and hospitalizes even more.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older, excluding those who are allergic to the vaccine. Groups at higher risk of developing influenza-related complications include: adults 50 years of age and older; children 6 months to 18 years of age; pregnant women; anyone with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and diabetes; and residents of long-term care facilities. The CDC also recommends a yearly vaccination for those who come into close contact with high-risk groups, such as household contacts, caregivers and health care providers.
For more information about the importance of influenza vaccination into the winter months and early spring, visit www.facesofinfluenza.org.
Faces of Influenza is an educational initiative from the American Lung Association, made possible through a collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur.