In a recent FluView report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seasonal influenza activity is elevated nationally and continues to increase. The number of states experiencing high influenza activity went from two during mid-December to nine with H1N1 viruses being the most commonly diagnosed flu viruses nationally. But, in the last four weeks, H3N2 viruses have prevailed in the southeastern region of the United States.
“At this time of the year, many people who haven’t had a flu shot believe they missed the opportunity to get vaccinated,” says Gene Del Rosario, MD, a Steward Health Care and Steward Medical Group primary care physician. “But this is a misconception as flu vaccines are still readily available and there are still several months of the flu season we need to get through.”
It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine as flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February and can last into May. Getting vaccinated can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, along with preventing flu-related hospitalizations.
Flu vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk for serious flu complications. Higher-risk individuals include:
- Children younger than 5 years old and especially those younger than 2 years old
- Adults aged 65 years and older
- Pregnant women and women who have recently given birth
- People with chronic conditions (asthma, heart disease, lung disease) or weakened immune systems (patients with diabetes, patients with HIV infection)
If you haven’t received a flu vaccine, act now and set up an appointment with your primary care physician as you’ll be protecting yourself and your colleagues, family, and friends. Also, finding a flu clinic is easy as your local department of health and many national pharmacies such as CVS or Walgreens as well as some grocery store pharmacies offer flu shots.
*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov
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