Flu Season in California – Still Time to Get Vaccinated

(January 21, 2014)

Flu season is just about to hit its peak, but there is still time to get vaccinated against influenza, a potentially life-threatening disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get an annual influenza vaccination.

Influenza (flu) is a serious, contagious respiratory illness. Each year in the U.S., on average, influenza and its related complications result in approximately 226,000 hospitalizations. Depending on virus severity during the flu season, deaths can range from 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. Flu season in the U.S. can begin as early as October, usually peaks around January and February, and as late as May.

“This year’s flu season is turning out to be more severe than we predicted, with 45 deaths already confirmed in California. Last year at this time we had only five flu-related deaths. The flu vaccine can help protect you and your loved ones. It’s not too late to get a flu shot. This is especially important for those who are living with lung disease such as asthma and COPD, since they are more likely to have complications from the flu,” said Michael Welch, M.D., Co-director, Allergy & Asthma Medical Group & Research Center and Clinical Professor, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

Important things to know about the flu vaccine:

  • An American Lung Association study showed that the flu shot is safe for people with asthma

  • The flu shot does not give you the flu

  • The flu shot is covered by Medicare and other health insurance

  • The vaccine only takes about two weeks to take effect so there’s still time to protect yourself

  • Most people experience little or no reaction to the flu shot. The most common side effect is a swollen, red, tender area where the vaccination is given

  • A nasal mist is available for those who do not like needles. However, the mist is not recommended for high risk populations, such as those living with asthma or COPD. Work with your health care provider to find the right option for you and your family members

Who should get vaccinated?

  • Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday

  • Pregnant women

  • People 50 years of age and older

  • People of any age with certain medical conditions, including chronic lung disease

  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

  • Anyone who comes in contact with someone who is at high risk for flu complications

    Not sure where to get vaccinated? The Flu Vaccine Finder can help you find a flu vaccination provider near you.

    The American Lung Association has more information and resources to help you learn more and protect yourself and your loved ones this flu season. For more information or to speak to a lung health expert, call our Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872).