ATLANTA, Nov. 23 To help encourage people whohave not yet gotten an influenza vaccination to do so, the Department ofHealth and Human Services, CDC, the National Influenza Vaccine Summit, andother partners will be holding the second annual National InfluenzaVaccination Week (NIVW), November 26 to December 2, 2007.
There are a number of reasons people who have not gotten their annual fluvaccination should do so in the coming days and weeks. First, the influenzaseason in the United States usually lasts until May, with January and Februaryoften months with many people becoming infected. Second, there have beenrelatively few reported cases of influenza in the U.S. so far this season.Thus, people who still need to get an influenza vaccination will benefit fromdoing so -- and the sooner they get vaccinated, the better.
Few people get a flu vaccine after November, and influenza vaccination forthose recommended for vaccination remains below target levels. For the pasttwo flu seasons, approximately 84 percent of all influenza vaccinations forthe year were administered during September through November, according todata from the National Health Interview Survey.
"National Influenza Vaccination Week is aimed at making people aware thatthe time to get a flu vaccine does not end in November," said Dr. AnneSchuchat, Director of CDC.s National Center for Immunization and RespiratoryDiseases. "The time to get vaccinated continues in December, January, andlater, to avoid getting the flu when the season peaks."
CDC encourages state and local health departments, public health partners,and health care providers to plan vaccination clinics and other activities topromote influenza vaccination during NIVW, and throughout the remainder of theinfluenza season.
During NIVW, CDC will highlight the importance of influenza vaccinationfor all people at high risk, the people who live with or care for them, andanyone who wants to be protected from influenza. CDC, Families Fighting Flu,and other partners also have set aside Tuesday, Nov. 27, as NationalChildren's Flu Vaccination Day, to put a special focus on the importance ofvaccinating high-risk children and the people close to them.
"Vaccination levels are not where we want them to be among children or thepeople who have close contact with them," said Schuchat. "So we are devoting aday to encourage all parents who want to protect their children from influenzato have them vaccinated, and get themselves vaccinated as well."
CDC's current recommendations state that all children should get a fluvaccine each year starting at 6 months of age up to their fifth birthday.
Flu can be a serious illness at any age. Children less than 2 years oldare nearly as likely to be hospitalized with influenza as people aged 65 andolder, and children between the ages of 2 and 5 are more likely to be taken toa doctor, an urgent care center, or the emergency room because of flu. Eachyear in the United States more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 arehospitalized due to influenza. Children six months to 18 years of age withcertain chronic health conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, are also athigh risk of having serious flu-related complications and should be vaccinatedevery year.
Children under 6 months of age are the group of kids most likely to getserious complications from the flu, but they are too young to get a vaccine.The best way to protect them is to make sure that every member of theirhousehold and all of their caregivers are vaccinated. For more informationabout influenza and influenza vaccine, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Contact: CDC Media Relations 404-639-3286
SOURCE Centers for Disease Control and Prevention