Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In the News: CDC Says to Get Your Flu Shot

Cold weather doesn't just bring snow showers – it also signals the approach of flu season. According to the CDC, flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, but most flu activity peaks in January or later.

To prepare for flu season, U.S. health officials are encouraging us to get our flu shots.

"There are too many illnesses and deaths from influenza each year," said CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. "Everyone over 6 months should get a flu shot this year and every year."

The CDC says that the flu causes an estimated 200,000 hospitalizations and between 3,000 and 49,000 deaths in a typical year.

Expectant Moms and Seniors are at Risk for Flu

Pregnant women are especially encouraged to get the vaccine, as flu is more likely to cause severe illness, as well as early deliveries and underweight babies. 

"The influenza vaccine during pregnancy is safe for both mothers and for babies," said Dr. Richard H. Beigi, a spokesman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

"Giving mom an influenza vaccination during pregnancy not only protects the mother, but also protects the newborn infant for the first six months of life. This is important because newborns less than six months of age are not eligible to receive the influenza vaccine, but are at higher risk for morbidity and occasional mortality."

In addition to expectant moms, people over the age of 65 are at greater risk of complications. In fact, it's estimated that 90 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths occur in people who are 65 and older.

Other people at risk include:
  • People with asthma
  • People with diabetes
  • People who have HIV or AIDS
  • People who have cancer
  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
Vaccination is also important for healthcare workers and caregivers to help keep the flu from spreading.

Where to Get Your Flu Shot

Flu vaccines are available in doctors' offices, public health clinics, pharmacies and retail stores.

Catholic Health offers flu shot clinics throughout Western New York and at no out-of-pocket cost to you, whether you're insured or uninsured.

Administered by registered nurses, flu shots are available to persons 18 years of age and older. Appointments are required.

Schedule your appointment by calling (716) 447-6205.

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