http://danvillesanramon.com/print/story/print/2008/01/25/get-serious-about-influenza-vaccination


Danville Express

- January 25, 2008

Get serious about influenza vaccination

Combined with pneumonia, flu is eighth leading cause of death in U.S.

Many people might be surprised that influenza season can last into the spring, but it's true. In fact, over the last 30 years, the influenza season has peaked in February or later, some years even as late as May.

This means that for anyone who has not been vaccinated against influenza, also known as "the flu," there is still time to get immunized. Health experts caution, the longer you wait the more you put yourself, and others, at risk for the disease and its serious complications.

To help guarantee all Americans are aware of the importance of yearly influenza vaccination, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and leading health experts encourage everyone to talk with their health care providers about vaccination and its benefits throughout the fall and winter, and even into spring.

Too many people think vaccination is only important in October and November, or don't think it's important at all. As a result, the demand for influenza vaccine drops after Thanksgiving, leaving many Americans without protection against influenza when it's needed the most.

The good news is vaccine is plentiful and immunization remains beneficial throughout the entire season which means that people can still get vaccinated in January and beyond. A longer vaccination season ensures the protection of as many children, adolescents and adults as possible. Influenza results in more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and leads to countless missed work and school days. Combined with pneumonia, it's the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S. It's that serious.

Even though public health experts recommend that 218 million Americans get vaccinated, vaccination rates fall far short of that number. Health experts say there is more vaccine available this year than ever before and there will be ample opportunity to get vaccinated.

"You or someone you know is probably in one of the groups that should get vaccinated against influenza every year," says Susan J. Rehm, M.D., medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. "It's the easiest way to protect yourself and those around you. It's not worth the risk. Get vaccinated."

Influenza vaccination is especially important for people 50 years of age and older, children 6 months up to 5 years of age, people with a certain medical conditions (such as asthma or diabetes) and pregnant women.

The vaccine is also recommended for close contacts of these groups, including health care workers, family members and other caretakers. In addition, anyone wishing to reduce their risk for influenza, including school age children, should get vaccinated.

Now is the time for all Americans to think about protecting themselves and those around them from influenza. Fortunately, there is enough vaccine available so that anyone who wants to be protected against influenza can be immunized. Get vaccinated - it's the best protection now and into the spring.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

For More Information

To learn more about influenza and the importance of yearly vaccination, talk to a health care provider or visit www.TalkFluToMe.org.

About Influenza

Influenza is a contagious virus that infects the respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs). Influenza symptoms can include fever (usually high), dry cough, headache, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat and muscle aches. It also can cause extreme tiredness that may last days or weeks.

The virus is easily spread from person to person, primarily when an infected individual coughs or sneezes, and can be passed on to others before symptoms appear and for many days after.

Although vaccination is the first line of defense against influenza, prescription antiviral medications may be helpful in preventing and controlling the spread of influenza. Antivirals can also be used for those who cannot receive influenza vaccine because of egg allergies.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

How to Avoid Colds and the Flu

Germs cause colds and flu. You can get germs by touching something that a sick person touched then touching your face, particularly your mouth.

* Wash your hands often. Always wash after using the bathroom, before eating, and after touching things that might have germs.

* Don't touch your face. Avoid touching your face unless you just washed your hands.

* Use tissues and then toss them in the garbage. Don't save old used tissues in your pocket or on your desk.

* Don't share glasses, straws or eating utensils, like forks and spoons.

* Eat a balanced diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables provide nutrients that help you fight germs.

* Get plenty of rest. Younger children, ages 6 to 12 years need at least 10 hours sleep a night, and teens need at least 9 to 9-1/2 hours sleep.

* Don't worry, be happy! Stress and worry can lower your resistance to fight infections. Regular exercise can help lower your stress.

--Courtesy of San Ramon Regional Medical Center

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