There is still time to get vaccinated against the flu!

Widespread flu activity reported in 42 states

(February 4, 2013)

Influenza is serious and this year's flu season is off and running earlier than usual. The good news is that there is still time to get vaccinated! In fact, as long as the influenza virus is circulating, it is beneficial to get immunized.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 42 states are reporting widespread influenza activity. This influenza season, activity began relatively early compared to most recent seasons, with flu activity starting to pick up nationwide in December and January.

Influenza severity also varies each year. So far this season, there have been 20 influenza-associated pediatric deaths; last year, there were none reported by this time. According to the CDC, this is the second highest number of pediatric deaths by this time during the past eight flu seasons. Depending on virus severity each influenza season, total deaths from influenza and its complications can range from 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. In addition, each year in the U.S., on average, influenza and its related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations.

The CDC recommends vaccination for everyone in the U.S. 6 months of age and older. Parents also need to know that children 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting a flu shot for the first time need to receive two doses approximately one month apart for optimal protection. After immunization, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to help protect against the virus.

Influenza vaccination is safe and effective. With vaccination options available for every age group—children, adults and seniors—people should talk with their health care provider or pharmacist to find the option that's right for them and their families this season.

For more information about influenza and the importance of annual vaccination, visit www.FacesOfInfluenza.org.