It will soon be that time again to roll up the old sleeves for our annual flu shot. Everyone is encouraged, by state health officials, to go get their flu shots to fight influenza this coming season.
The good news is that in contrast to last year, there is enough supply of the vaccine and it is not restricted to certain age groups. Anyone over 6 months old is urged to get the vaccine.
The main challenge during the 2009 epidemic of H1N1 flu (often called the swine flu), was getting enough vaccine made in time to get ahead of the first surge of the illness, according to N.C. Health Director, Dr. Jeffrey Engel. He said, “This year, manufacturers are ahead of the curve, giving us plenty of time to get folks adequately protected for flu season.”
This year’s seasonal flu vaccine has already arrived at some doctors’ offices, health departments and pharmacies. It is now available in injectable and nasal spray formulas. The vaccine not only offers protection against the two flu strains predicted to be around this fall and winter, it will also protect against the H1N1 virus.
So that means that only one vaccination will be necessary for most of us. Like before, children who are under age 9 and have not been ever been vaccinated against the flu, will need to get two doses of the flu vaccine.
Remember that the seasonal flu is the most dangerous for very young children and the elderly. The weird thing about the H1N1 flu is that it seemed to affect middle-aged adults and young people. Estimations from the CDC indicate that more than 12,000 people died from H1N1 last year, which included more than 10,000 who were under 65 years old.
Engel said that “H1N1 has reminded us that influenza, no matter what strain, is a serious disease at any age,” and “even if you aren’t hospitalized, it can severely disrupt your life. A vaccination is safe and effective and the best way to prevent the flu.”