It’s that time of year again when we are reminded of the importance of getting our influenza vaccination, as it is the best defense against contracting the flu and suffering from its health consequences. However, our nation continues to fall short in reaching its immunization goals. Therefore, I am reaching out to all of my contacts to urge each of us to get our flu shots; but, more importantly, to reach out to our friends and family to do the same.
As noted in the Medscape CDC Expert Commentary by Lisa Grohskopf, MD, MPH, titled “Influenza Vaccination Recommendations for the 2015-2016 Season”, influenza causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands of deaths each season.
As in past years, routine annual influenza vaccinations are recommended for all persons aged 6 months or older who do not have contraindications. There are some updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with regard to the 2015-2016 influenza vaccination recommendations and they are available on the CDC website.
As stated in Dr. Grohskopf’s commentary:
“Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for persons who are at increased risk for severe complications from influenza. When vaccine supply is limited, efforts should focus on delivering vaccination to the following persons (no hierarchy is implied by the order of listing):
- All children aged 6 through 59 months;
- All persons aged 50 years or older;
- Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma) or cardiovascular (except isolated hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus);
- Persons who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV infection);
- Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season;
- Children and adolescents (aged 6 months through 18 years) who are receiving aspirin therapy and who might be at risk of experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection;
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
- American Indians/Alaska Natives; and
- Persons who are obese, with a body mass index of 40 kg/m2 or greater.
Continued emphasis should be placed on vaccination of persons who live with or care for persons at higher risk for influenza-related complications. When vaccine supply is limited, vaccination efforts should focus on delivering vaccination to the persons at higher risk for influenza-related complications listed above, as well as the following persons:
- Healthcare personnel;
- Household contacts (including children) and caregivers of children aged 59 months or older (ie, younger than 5 years) and adults aged 50 years or older, with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children younger than 6 months; and
- Household contacts (including children) and caregivers of persons with medical conditions that put them at high risk for severe complications from influenza.”
It is impossible to know how severe this year’s influenza season will be and its impact on all of us. If you and/or a family member are one of the persons identified as being at an increased risk for severe complications from influenza, check with your health care professional about getting your flu shot now! The influenza vaccines are readily available at your physician’s office; health care provider’s facility; and pharmacy locations in your neighborhoods! Stay ahead of this year’s flu season … and, keep you and your family healthy from the flu during this influenza season!!