Flu Season Repeat: New Year, Same Vaccine

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The new flu shot is the same as last year’s version, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to recommend that anyone 6 months or older get their annual flu shot.

The CDC said Thursday that those who got the shot in 2010 should be immunized again in 2011, since the level of protective antibodies declines during the year, making the vaccine less effective.

“People should get vaccinated again to make sure that they are optimally protected,” Carolyn Bridges, associate director for adult immunization with the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, said.

Bridges said the recommendations are virtually identical to those made last year, with the real only difference being that children between 6 months and 9 years of age who received a flu shot last year only need one dose of this year’s vaccine. Children who did not receive the shot last year or whose vaccination status is unknown should still receive two doses of the vaccination.

The CDC also reiterated that pregnant women should not shy away from getting a flu shot.

“Children under 6 months of age are at the highest risk of influenza hospitalization, but they are not old enough to get vaccinated,” Bridges said. As such, she added medical providers are being “strongly urged to offer vaccinations to their pregnant patients.”

The urging follows the CDC’s discovery that women who were offered influenza vaccination by a health care provider were five times as likely to be vaccinated as women who didn’t receive an offer to do so. The CDC said that four out of 10 women in this survey did not receive a provider offer during the 2010-2011 flu season.

The agency also strongly encouraged physicians and health care providers to offer flu vaccinations to their staff after discovering that, despite marked improvements, vaccination coverage among health care personnel remains below 2020 national health objectives. 

During the 2010-2011 season, vaccination rates among medical personnel was 63.5%, with 84% of physicians and 70% of nurses covered. Bridges said that medical providers could increase this percentage by making the vaccine a workplace requirement, providing it to employees free of charge or making the vaccine available to staff for more than just one day.

Doctors’ offices aren’t the only places that you can get a flu shot. Find a list of some other places that provide vaccines near you in this MainStreet roundup.

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