It's not too late to get flu shot

By Priya Kalia, M.D.
Nov. 28, 2017 at 4:27 p.m.

Priya Kalia

Priya Kalia   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

The Centers for Disease Control established National Influenza Vaccination Week in 2005 to remind people that even though the holiday season has begun, it's not too late to get a flu shot. This year, National Influenza Vaccination Week is scheduled for Dec. 3-9. A second goal of the observance week is to communicate to those who are at the highest risk of complications if they acquire the flu.

For people at high risk, getting the flu can be far more serious than for other people. Flu is more likely to lead to hospitalization or death for people in the high risk groups, and their first line of defense is vaccination.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, people in the highest risk categories include:

• Children under the age of 5, but especially those under age 2

• Adults over the age of 65

• Pregnant women, and up to two weeks postpartum

• Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities

• People with chronic medical conditions, including but not limited to asthma, diabetes and heart and lung diseases

• Those with weakened immune systems because of medications or medical conditions

• Obese patients - those with a BMI of more than 40

• Alaskan and American Indian natives also appear to be at higher risk

While the focus on immunization is not necessarily new, there are some new developments and recommendations for the 2017 flu season.

First, the Centers for Disease Control reports that available vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses.

Second, the recommendation to not use the nasal spray vaccine has been renewed this year - only injectable flu shots should be used for all populations.

Preventing the flu in as many people as possible is our first priority. But physicians are prepared to react quickly to those high-risk patients who contract the virus.

Work with your physician to determine the best vaccine type for you, and don't delay in getting medical care if you suspect you have contracted the flu.

Dr. Priya Kalia is a family medicine physician in her first year of residency with the DeTar Family Medicine Program. The DeTar Family Medicine Program is an affiliation with Texas A&M Health Science Center's School of Medicine.


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