CDC: Get Your Flu Shot Now!

While relatively few cases of flu have surfaced so far in the United States, health officials say the holiday season will likely change that, so everyone should get a flu shot now.

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People will be shopping, traveling and going to gatherings — all excellent ways to be exposed to flu, said Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in the influenza division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“People get flu when they are around people with flu,” he said. “If we can get people to get vaccinated in the weeks before they leave for their holiday trips, that would be ideal.”

Now is a great time to get vaccinated, before flu is widespread, Jhung said. “It’s December and we don’t have much flu activity in the U.S., which is not too surprising.”

But low to moderate flu activity is starting to appear in Oklahoma and South Carolina, Jhung said. “That’s a sign that flu activity is likely to pick up in a week or two,” he said.

couple sick in bed, sick in bed, couple in bed, man and woman in bed
The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get a flu shot, even when the flu is epidemic, Jhung said. “It’s never too late to get vaccinated.”

In a typical flu season, flu complications — including pneumonia — send more than 200,000 people to the hospital. Death rates linked to flu vary annually, but have gone as high as 49,000 deaths in a year, the CDC says.

Pregnant women are at increased risk from the flu. And it’s vital that women with newborns get their flu shot to help protect their infants, who can’t be vaccinated until they are at least 6 months old.

Also at risk are seniors and people with chronic health problems, such as lung and heart disease.