The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Opinion

September 16, 2010

Fighting the flu

— Following last year’s craze surrounding the swine flu, also known as H1N1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that everyone 6 months and older receive the seasonal flu vaccine which has been developed to protect against three viral strains — influenza B, H1N1 and H3N2.

In fact, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has suggested that as soon as the shots are available, which they currently are, that people get vaccinated. The panel voted earlier this year for “universal” flu vaccines to expand protection against the flu.

This is different from years past when flu shots typically weren’t offered until October. But viruses — and times — have changed.

The CDC suggests that while everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important that the following groups get vaccinated, either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications: pregnant women — children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old; people 50 years of age and older; people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions; people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; people who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including health care workers, household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu and household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated).

There are always some individuals who shouldn’t be vaccinated, but those are a very few.

While nothing is a guarantee, the shots are proven to either prevent or help lessen the severity of the symptoms and assist in reducing the number of people who get the flu. Numerous pharmacies and clinics already have, or are about to offer the vaccines.

Should you have questions about receiving a flu shot, consult a medical professional.

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