Allercy and Asthma Health
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The Official Publication of AAN - MA

It’s Not Too Late To Get the Flu Vaccine

by Mike Shoemaker, RRT-NPS, AE-C

Are you wondering if it’s too late to get the flu shot? Definitely not! Even though “flu season” typically peaks in January and February, this highly contagious illness can hang around until April or May.

The flu causes millions to be miserably sick every year. It puts more than 200,000 people in the hospital, and in rare cases it can be deadly. Anyone can get the flu, and anyone can pass the flu along to others. That’s why getting the flu vaccine is so important and why it’s not too late to get it.

The very best way to protect yourself, your friends, and your family from getting the flu is to get the vaccine. While people with asthma are asked to get the actual flu shot, if your family or friends are worried about getting a shot, they might be able to take FluMist®, a nasal spray, instead. FluMist® is an option for people between the ages of 2–49 who are not pregnant and who do not have a chronic illness like asthma or diabetes. Talk to your doctor or health care provider if you want to learn more about the nasal spray flu vaccine.

Everyone is at risk of getting the flu, but some people are at an even greater risk for serious complications like pneumonia, being hospitalized, and in rare instances even dying. The flu can be especially dangerous for:

  • Children under 5 years old, and especially children under 2 years old.
  • Adults 65 and older
  • Pregnant women
  • People with:
    • Asthma
    • Diabetes
    • Chronic lung diseases like COPD, cystic fibrosis, or others
    • Weakened immune systems
    • Heart disease
    • Kidney, liver, or blood disorders

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu vaccine for everyone 6 months or older. Since children under the age of 6 months are at high risk of developing serious complications if they get the flu, people caring for them should be vaccinated to lessen the infant’s chances of catching the disease.

Other ways to help prevent the spread of influenza include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and if you are sick keep your distance from others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Keep your hands clean using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Stay healthy. Get a good night’s sleep and exercise regularly. Drink plenty of liquids and eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet.

However, the single best way to prevent the spread of the flu is to get your flu vaccine. It’s not too late!

Mike Shoemaker is a member of the American Association for Respiratory Care from Anderson, SC, where he serves as manager of the respiratory care department at AnMed Health Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

 

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