Dec. 8, 2014—Typically, the number of Americans who get vaccinated against the flu decreases after November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. However, the flu season usually doesn’t peak until sometime between December and February. And the flu can still be a significant threat as late as May. So the time for getting your vaccine hasn’t run out.
The flu vaccine is still effective for those who get it in December—or later, if the flu is still circulating. That’s the CDC public health message for this National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 7 through 13.
A potentially deadly disease
Chances are you know that the flu can make you fatigued, feverish, achy and miserable. But it also has the potential to cause potentially life-threatening complications, including pneumonia.
In fact, more than 200,000 people nationwide are hospitalized every year because of complications from the flu, according to CDC, and those complications are often deadly.
The best protection against this contagious, potentially life-threatening virus is a yearly flu vaccine, which CDC advises for everyone 6 months and older.
The vaccine is especially important for anyone at risk of severe complications. These include:
- Young children
- Adults 65 and older
- People with chronic health problems, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart or lung disease
It’s also crucial to be vaccinated if you care for anyone at high risk of flu complications, such as babies younger than 6 months who aren’t yet old enough for the vaccine.
The vaccine has a very good safety track record, according to CDC. If side effects occur at all, they are usually mild and temporary.
|The take-home message|
|National Influenza Vaccination Week is a reminder to make sure you and your loved ones are protected against the flu.
You may be able to choose between 2 types of vaccine: a flu shot and a nasal spray.
There are flu shots available for most people age 6 months or older.
The spray is approved for most people between 2 and 49 years old, except pregnant women.
Get the full CDC guidelines here.
Healthy children ages 2 through 8 should be vaccinated with the nasal spray wherever it’s available—if it’s not, they should get the shot instead.
Some children may need 2 doses of the flu vaccine. If you’re a parent, ask your child’s doctor if a second dose is necessary.
According to CDC, most health insurance plans cover the cost of the vaccine.
The vaccine benefits all age groups. Use the infographic below to find out how. And consider taking CDC’s vaccination pledge to protect yourself—and your family.