Why Influenza Immunization Is Important
Influenza is a serious and potentially deadly disease that is easily spread in the general population, however, the rates of infection are highest among children.
Influenza vaccination is safe and effective and is the best way to prevent contracting the virus.
Influenza can worsen chronic medical conditions or cause serious complications in people with a variety of chronic illnesses. Vaccination can therefore be especially beneficial to both children and adults with certain chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease and compromised immune systems.
Widespread vaccination of children may interrupt influenza transmission to others, since influenza outbreaks usually begin in children and then move to the community at large.
The annual seasonal influenza vaccine does not provide protection against avian influenza. Seasonal influenza continues to pose a far greater danger to individuals in the United States than avian influenza.
Government health statistics show that 15 million to 60 million Americans get the flu each year, with as many as 70 million missed work days.
With median weekly earnings of $675 for all wage and salary workers, paid sick leave costs an employer $135 per day per employee. Multiply the $135 by the 70 million missed work days for a total of $9.45 billion in lost wages.
When People Should Receive Influenza Immunization
In the United States, the influenza season may begin as early as September and end as late as May. The influenza season usually peaks around February, so getting immunized throughout the fall and winter is beneficial.
One vaccination a year is all that is needed to protect against influenza, except for children younger than 9 years of age who need two doses at least one month apart the first year they are being vaccinated.
Circulating influenza viruses usually change from year to year. Because of this, a new vaccine is made each year to protect against the viruses most likely to be in the community.
The influenza vaccine is effective only for the current season, so it is important to get vaccinated every year.
Individuals should contact their health care professional to request the influenza vaccine for their children, themselves and other household contacts. Many health care professionals administer the vaccine. Local hospitals, health clinics, retail stores and even some employers may also hold vaccination clinics.
Who Should Receive Influenza Vaccination
Anyone wishing to reduce his or her risk for influenza should ask a health care professional about receiving an annual vaccination.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends annual influenza vaccination for the following groups:
On a yearly basis within the United States, anywhere from 5% to 20% of the population will become infected with the influenza virus. Of these infected individuals, more than 200,000 will be hospitalized in connection with obtaining this illness.
The flu is much worse than just a cold. The flu will cause you to have a high fever, cough, chills, headache, muscle aches and pains, moderate to extreme weakness, and inability to get out of bed for up to 10 days. It can leave you with serious complications such as pneumonia, kidney failure, heart failure, and in some, it can even lead to death.
An alarming 36,000 Americans will die from the flu and its complications. Sadly, more people die from flu than from any other vaccine-preventable disease. This is in part to people underestimating the severity of the influenza virus.
According to the CDC, “The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year”.
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