Tis the Season for Flu Shots

Posted on October 31, 2011 by

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Hospital patients are encouraged to watch a video advocating flu shots. Photo used with permission from Andres Rueda at Flickr.com.

Are flu vaccines really necessary for teenagers? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), they are very necessary.

Over time, the flu vaccinations received by children begin to wear down, and many older kids can develop risks for certain infections in their teen years. Teenagers might also have to catch up on vaccines they missed in their pre-teen years.

In reality, flu shots should be administered to everyone. Even though high school students are not the highest priority, most health officials agree they should be taken by everyone. FAHS nurse Bonnie Fansler agrees.

“Flu shots are encouraged for everybody.  They can only help you avoid getting sick this winter,” Fansler said.

Although in recent years vaccinations have been a controversial topic, doctors are hoping that the divisiveness will begin to recede.  When a study from the late-90s drew connections between autism and vaccinating infants, many parents began to decline essential medical procedures.  Recently, however, this study was proven to be instituted inappropriately, and few professionals give the original claims any credibility.  Some pseudo-scientists, led by model and “actress” Jenny McCarthy, have maintained parental fears despite the assurances of medical professionals.

According to the CDC, the 2011–2012 flu vaccine will protect against three common viruses: influenza A H3N2 virus, the influenza B virus, and the H1N1 virus that began to thrive in 2009.

The vaccination should be used on high risk people, which includes children and the elderly. It is also important for health care workers to receive the vaccine because of their exposure to patients.

According to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the vaccine and virus strain in 2011-2012 will be the same in 2010-2011. This means that, even if someone received a vaccination last year, he or she should still make an appointment to get a flu vaccine again this year. Vaccinations are recommended for everyone over six months old.

For individuals who opted out of a flu vaccination this winter, there are still ways to stay healthy.

“If individuals choose not to receive the flu shot, their best lines of defense are to maintain daily healthy activities.  Get seven to eight hours of sleep nightly, eat three healthy meals daily (especially breakfast!), and exercise,” Fansler said. “It is also a good idea to wash your hands often and to avoid contact with others if you get infected.”

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