The holiday season has arrived, and the Centers for Disease Control has an important message for you: It’s not too late to get your flu shot.
The CDC and its partners recognize Dec. 3 through 9 as National Influenza Vaccination Week, a time to highlight awareness about the importance of vaccination against the flu virus.
Health officials estimate that beyond the end of November, few people seek a flu vaccination. Last year, only 40 percent of people in the United States who should receive a flu vaccine had received one by Dec. 1.
If you have not yet gotten your flu vaccine, what do you need to know?
You Can Still Benefit
With the flu continuing to spread and make people sick, you can still benefit from the flu vaccine — even by getting it late in the year. If you have not yet been vaccinated and you have already been sick with the flu, health officials still recommend that you get your shot, since it provides protection against several different viruses.
In 2005, the CDC first recognized National Influenza Vaccination Week to stress the importance of continuing to vaccinate people into the holiday season and even into the New Year — as long as the flu continues to spread.
The flu — a contagious respiratory disease — can lead to mild or severe illness, and it can cause death to people at high risk. The disease results in hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations every year in the United States alone, and adults over the age of 65 suffer the majority of hospitalizations and deaths.
New Study Highlights Vaccine Effectiveness
A recent study review demonstrated that one type of flu vaccine — Fluzone High-Dose (IIV3-HD) was more effective than the standard-dose vaccine in lowering negative outcomes — including flu-like illness, hospitalization and death — from the disease in older adults
The study’s author, from the University of Toronto, conducted a systematic review of studies that evaluated the effectiveness of IIV3-HD in adults over the age of 65. The meta-analysis included three observational studies and four randomized trials.
Annual Vaccine Is the Best Protection
By getting your flu vaccination each year, you can reduce the risk of illness along with serious outcomes such as pneumonia, the need for antibiotics and hospitalization. Even if you do get sick, the flu vaccine may result in a milder form of the illness.
Vaccination also helps protect others with whom you come in contact, including young children, infants and individuals with chronic health problems.
Once you receive the vaccine, it will take approximately two weeks for your body to develop the antibodies that protect you. To schedule your vaccination, contact your doctor or find a provider.