The New Jersey Department of Health is reminding residents to get the seasonal flu vaccine during National Influenza Vaccination Week. While seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, flu activity is usually highest between December and February. As long as flu activity is ongoing, it’s not too late to get vaccinated, even in January or later.
“Now is a great time to get the flu vaccine in anticipation of family gatherings during the holiday season,” Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett said. “Getting the vaccine is the most important step you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu, which can cause serious illness and death in some.”
A full list of National Influenza Vaccination Week events in New Jersey can be found here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. Certain people are at greater risk for serious complications if they get sick with the flu. Those at high risk include:
- Children younger than 5 years, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People 65 years of age and older
- Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after end of pregnancy
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives
- People who have medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.
Flu vaccination should also be a priority for people who live with or care for persons who are vulnerable to developing flu-related complications.
Children younger than six months of age are too young to get vaccinated and anyone who has ever had a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine also should not get a flu shot. Therefore, it is important for those around them to be vaccinated in order to provide a circle of protection.
For the 2016-2017 season, the CDC is recommending only injectable flu shots be used. The nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) should not be used during 2016-2017 based on concerns about its effectiveness. This recommendation applies to the 2016–2017 season only.
“A person’s immune protection from vaccine declines over time so annual flu vaccination is needed for the best protection against the flu,” Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito said. “In addition to receiving an annual flu vaccine, other steps to prevent the flu include washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, covering your coughs and sneezes, and staying home when you are sick.”
Flu vaccines are safe and effective and are offered in many locations including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, urgent care centers, and pharmacies. For general flu information and to find a flu shot near you, please visit the Department’s website at www.nj.gov/flu.
For more information about NIVW, visit the CDC webpage at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/nivw/index.htm.
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