Health World — 04 November 2011

Dr. Arveen Thethi says that every person over six months old should get a flu shot each year.

The flu season is underway and public health officials around the country are reminding all of us about the importance of having a flu shot.

But not everyone believes it is a good idea.

An online polling firm called PollPosition.com reports that Americans are evenly divided over getting a flu shot. In a national telephone survey, 46% of those responding said they have already ready had a flu shot while 47% said they have not and will not get a flu shot.

“Everyone six-months and older should get a flu shot. It is important to note that children, older adults and pregnant women as well as people with chronic medical conditions like asthma are at a greater risk for the flu,” said Arveen Thethi, M.D. of Allergy and Asthma Care Centers which has 11 offices in Virginia and Maryland.

The poll indicated that the elderly are more prone to get a flu shot. 62% of those described as 65 and older said they have already had their flu shot. 90% of the deaths from the flu are in people over 65 years of age.

Not surprisingly, the largest number of people who don’t plan to get a flu shot are under 30 years old. 46% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 said they wouldn’t be getting a flu shot this year.

“A lot of people don’t get a flu shot every year because they think the shot itself can cause the flu. It does not. It’s a common misconception, but people continue to believe it anyway,” said Dr. Thethi.

Generally the protection from one flu shot will last the entire season. Children ages nine or younger who have never had the flu shot before should receive two vaccines, because they are only given half a dose at a time.

The flu vaccine for the current flu season is the same as last year and includes three main flu strains based on the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. There are many different flu strains each year, but the vaccine is made up of the three most common strains.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says because influenza activity in the U.S. is low right now, this is the perfect time to get vaccinated. It takes about two weeks after the vaccination for your body to develop an immune response.

The flu season runs from November to April.

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