National Influenza Week
December 1-7, 2019Previous flu vaccination coverage data has shown that few people get vaccinated against influenza after the end of November. The Centers for disease control and its partners want to remind people that even though the holiday season has begun, it is not too late to get a flu vaccine. As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination should continue throughout flu season in order to protect as many people as possible against flu. While vaccination is recommended before the end of October, getting vaccinated later can still be beneficial during most seasons for people who have put it off. If you have already been sick with the flu, you can still benefit form vaccination since many different flu viruses spread during flu season and most flu vaccine protects against four different flu viruses. The Burden of Flu Flu isn’t a “bad cold” and can result in serious health complications, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, and can lead to hospitalization. Flu can sometimes even lead to death. _Most people who get flu will recover in several days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop serious flu complications. _People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions, and people 65 years of age and older. _Anyone who gets the flu can pass it to someone at high risk of severe illness, including children who are too young to get the vaccine, elderly people, and those with certain chronic illness. Benefits of Flu Vaccination _The flu vaccine is estimated to prevent 5.3 million influenza illnesses. _A 2018 study showed that from 2012 to 2015, flu vaccination among adults reduced the risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit with the flu by 82 percent. _Studies show that when a pregnant woman is vaccinated, her baby is protected for several months after birth. _ Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick. Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.
- You are over 45
- You are overweight and have additional risk factors, such as a family history
- You lead an inactive lifestyle.
It’s hard to fully appreciate how vaccines have changed the world of modern medicine. The fact is, vaccines have helped save millions and millions of lives. On a global scale, health organizations work diligently to distribute vaccines to poorer countries. Thanks to increased access to the measles vaccine internationally, the annual death toll from this disease fell from almost 600,000 in 2000 to just 122,000 in 2012. However, vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough, are still a threat. They continue to infect U.S. children, resulting in hospitalizations and deaths every year. Outbreaks of preventable diseases occur when many parents decide not to vaccinate their children. In the year 2000, the endemic spread of measles was considered to be eliminated in the United States but is now on the rise. If children are not vaccinated, they can spread disease to other children who are too young to be vaccinated or to people with weakened immune systems, such as transplant recipients and people with cancer. When we vaccinate children, we not only protect other children, but family members, friends, and grandparents. Immunizations are not just for children. Protection from some childhood vaccines can wear off over time. You may be at risk because of your age, health, or lifestyle. All adults need immunizations to help prevent them from getting and spreading serious diseases. For instance, all adults need a seasonal flu vaccine every year. A study done by the CDC showed that the influenza vaccine saved 40,000 lives from flu-related deaths during the nine-year period from 2005-2014. Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a tetanus/diptheria booster shot every 10 years. You should talk with your doctor if you feel you should be exempt from these vaccinations. A recurrence in the rise of outbreaks of infectious diseases in the U.S., such as measles, can be traced to those traveling to the U.S. from other countries, but the CDC feels the real culprit is misinformation about vaccines. Anti-vaxxers take advantage of social media and the internet to stoke public resistance to vaccines. The World Health organization named vaccine hesitancy among the top 10 threats to global health in 2019. To help spread this message and to counter misinformation, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine created a website (see below) displaying overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe. The American Medical Association sent a letter to top executives at Amazon, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube urging them to do more to stem the proliferation of health-related misinformation. For credible information about the safety of vaccines, talk to your doctor or visit: www.cdc.gov or sites.nationalacademies.org/BasedOnScience/vaccines-are-safe/