National Influenza Vaccination week runs from December 4 to December 11 every year. During this week, medical providers like to emphasize the importance of getting a yearly flu vaccination. We’d like to share some facts about influenza, the vaccine, and the reasons why you should make sure to get your flu shot this year.

About The Influenza Virus

Influenza, often referred to as “the flu”, is a common viral infection that can potentially lead to serious health complications. Hospitalizations for the flu occur in the hundreds of thousands every year, with thousands resulting in death. Getting an annual influenza vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from the flu virus.

How Does The Flu Vaccine Work?

Influenza vaccines contain a small amount of the flu virus. About two weeks after you are vaccinated, your body will have developed antibodies that are capable of resisting the virus if an infection occurs later in the season. Unfortunately, the flu virus comes in many variations. The vaccine being administered each season is based on what scientists predict will be the most common influenza strains in the upcoming season. Vaccines vary by type and strength, mostly in accordance with age. For instance, there are several flu vaccines that are only approved for patients 65 years and older because they need extra protection.

For this 2018-2019 flu season, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) advised that everyone over the age of 6 months should be immunized with one of the following: inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV), recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV4) or live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV4).

Who is at High Risk For Influenza Complications?

Some individuals are at higher risk for complications due to flu infection. For this reason, these people are strongly advised to get vaccinated every year:

  • Children younger than 5
  • Adults older than 65
  • Pregnant women
  • Native Americans and Alaskan Natives

People who have the following conditions are also at high risk for influenza complications:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic lung diseases
  • Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions
  • Heart disease
  • Blood disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Cancer
  • Extreme obesity

Make sure you get vaccinated this year to protect yourself and the people around you from influenza!