CONCORD — It’s National Influenza Vaccination Week, a national campaign to remind everyone that even though the holiday season has arrived, if they have not yet received their annual flu vaccination, it is still a good time to get vaccinated.
The New Hampshire Immunization Program at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services is reminding everyone, especially those at high risk of complications, that the flu is not just a bad cold and causes more than 25,000 deaths a year in the U.S.
It has already been seen in New Hampshire this season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 6 months and older receive an annual flu vaccine as the first
and most important step in protecting against influenza disease. NIVW efforts focus on reaching people of all ages about the importance of
ongoing flu vaccination.
“Since the virus changes every year and the immunity provided by the vaccine wanes,” said Dr. José Montero, “it is important to be vaccinated every year. The vaccine make up is actually reviewed yearly to make sure it matches the strains in circulation and is adjusted accordingly. It is also important that children receiving the flu vaccine for the first time receive two doses because the first dose primes the immune system and the second dose provides the immune protection. There is also a nasal version available for people who do not like needles if you are age 2-49 and are healthy and not pregnant.”
Another goal of NIVW is to communicate the importance of flu vaccination for people who are at high risk of developing complications if they become ill.
These groups include: young children (those under 5 years of age, particularly those younger than 2); adults age 65 years and older; people who are immune compromised; pregnant women; people 18 years or younger who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy; people who are morbidly obese (BMI of 40 or greater); esidents of nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities; people with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes (Types 1 and 2), neurologic conditions, and heart and lung disease.
There are also individuals who are recommended to receive the flu vaccine to protect those around them, including: health-care workers; household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children younger than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated); and household contacts of people who are at higher risk of complications above.
“If you won’t get vaccinated for yourself,” Montero said, “do it for the ones you love and take care of. Remember too that through the Vaccines for Children program, the vaccines themselves are free for New Hampshire’s children through age 18, so contact your health-care provider.”
Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, retail stores and pharmacies, and health centers, as well as
employers and some schools.
To learn more, visit cdc.gov/flu/nivw/. To find out more about the Immunization Program go to dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/immunization/index.htm.