(RxWiki News) This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week. Have you had your flu shot yet?
If you haven't, now is the perfect time to get vaccinated. That's because the benefits of the flu vaccine require about two weeks to take effect, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — just in time for the holidays!
Tucker D. Simmons, PharmD, pharmacist and owner at Beauregard Drugs in Opelika, AL, echoed the CDC's call for more patients to get the flu vaccine.
"Getting the flu vaccine helps protect the one receiving the vaccine from getting and or spreading the flu virus," Dr. Simmons told RxWiki News. "The flu can cause patients to stay home, miss work and/or school and can cause hospitalization to even death. Research is done each year to try and identify which strands will be most likely to be circulating that year, and each year the vaccine is produced to combat those specific strands of viruses."
Celebrated Dec. 6 through 12, National Influenza Vaccination Week serves to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination throughout the holiday season and beyond. According to the CDC, an annual flu vaccine is the single best way to prevent the flu.
Flu activity typically peaks between December and February in the US, but the season can last until May. And the sooner you get vaccinated, the more likely you are to be protected when the flu hits your community.
The CDC now recommends everyone get a yearly flu shot, with the exception of babies younger than 6 months and in some rare cases.
Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of serious flu-related complications, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Those at high risk include children younger than 5, but especially those younger than 2; people with certain chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes; pregnant women; health care workers and the elderly.
Some children ages 6 to 8 months also need two doses of the flu vaccine to be fully protected, according to the CDC. Your pediatrician can tell you if this recommendation applies to your child.
There are several flu vaccine options available for the upcoming flu season, including traditional shots and nasal sprays. The CDC does not recommend one flu vaccine over another.
As of Nov. 13, around 133 million doses of the 2015-2016 flu vaccine have been distributed to health care providers around the US, the CDC reports.
If you have any questions about flu vaccination, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.