All Adults Are Urged to Get a Flu Shot
As the flu season approaches, public health officials are recommending that everyone over 6 months old get a flu shot this year.
This is the first time that the flu vaccine has been recommended for all adults, said Diane Watson, director of Georgia’s office of immunization.
Children and the elderly have long been urged to get a flu vaccine, because getting the flu is especially risky for those groups. And officials have gradually expanded the list of nonelderly adults who should get the shot to include anyone coming into contact with kids or older people.
But this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling on everybody to roll up their sleeves and get the shot.
"We have long recognized that vaccination is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself from getting the flu," said Tom Skinner, a CDC spokesman.
The flu vaccine this year will protect people from three types of flu, including the H1N1 flu that last year created a flu epidemic.
The strains included in last year’s flu vaccine had already been identified by the time H1N1 appeared in April. A second vaccine just for H1N1 was manufactured and administered last fall.
It can be difficult to predict which strains of the flu will do the most harm each year, but public health officials say that the flu activity observed so far suggests this year’s vaccine should be effective.
"It appears we have a really good match as far as what’s in the vaccine and what we expect to circulate," said Skinner, of the CDC.
Public health officials expect the impact of H1N1 to be less intense this year because many people are now resistant to it and those who are vaccinated will be protected.
"While flu is unpredictable, it’s unlikely it’s going to return with a vengeance the way it did last year," Skinner said.
Public health officials are also strongly urging people who work in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care settings to get the vaccine.