The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set aside the week of Dec. 5-11, 2010 to observe this season's National Influenza Vaccination Week. The week-long emphasis on flu vaccination was established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination, as well as fostering greater use of flu vaccine after the holiday season into January and beyond. National Influenza Vaccination Week provides an opportunity for public health professionals, healthcare professionals, health advocates, communities, and families from across the country to work together to promote flu vaccination before the traditional winter peak in flu activity.
With three strains of flu expected to circulate in the 2010-2011 season, it is important that everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated if they haven't already done so, to protect themselves and their loved ones from flu. The three flu strains identified by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices are an A/H3N2 strain, a B strain and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain. This year's flu vaccine provides protection against all three strains and approximately 160 million doses of the vaccine have already been distributed nationwide.
The universal flu vaccine recommendation, which encourages everyone 6 months of age and older to be vaccinated, took effect this flu season, "The new vaccination recommendation shows the importance of preventing the flu in everyone," says Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC's director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "People who do not get vaccinated are taking two risks: first, they are placing themselves at risk for the flu, including a potentially long and serious illness, and second, if they get sick, they are also placing their close contacts at risk for influenza."
"The bottom line is, anyone - even healthy people -- can get sick from the flu," says assistant secretary for health Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH.
One of the many goals for NIVW is to engage at-risk audiences who are not yet vaccinated, hesitant about vaccination, or unsure about where to get vaccinated. Each day of National Influenza Vaccination Week is designated to highlight the importance for certain groups such as families, older adults, and people with high risk conditions like diabetes, asthma and heart problems, to get vaccinated. The kickoff day, Sunday, Dec. 5, will emphasize the importance of the universal vaccination recommendation, because everyone needs to be protected from flu.
State and local public health departments and other partners are encouraged to participate in planning their own NIVW events. For more information about National Influenza Vaccination Week, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/nivw/ or http://www.flu.gov, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' dedicated flu website.