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To help encourage people who have not yet gotten an influenza vaccination to do so, the Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, the National Influenza Vaccine Summit, and other partners will be holding the second annual National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), Nov. 26 to Dec. 2, 2007.
There are a number of reasons people who have not gotten their annual flu vaccination should do so in the coming days and weeks. First, the influenza season in the United States usually lasts until May, with January and February often months with many people becoming infected. Second, there have been relatively few reported cases of influenza in the U.S. so far this season.Â Thus, people who still need to get an influenza vaccination will benefit from doing so -- and the sooner they get vaccinated, the better.
Few people get a flu vaccine after November, and influenza vaccination for those recommended for vaccination remains below target levels.Â Â For the past two flu seasons, approximately 84 percent of all influenza vaccinations for the year were administered during September through November, according to data from the National Health Interview Survey.
National Influenza Vaccination Week is aimed at making people aware that the time to get a flu vaccine does not end in November, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. The time to get vaccinated continues in December, January, and later, to avoid getting the flu when the season peaks.Â
CDC encourages state and local health departments, public health partners, and health care providers to plan vaccination clinics and other activities to promote influenza vaccination during NIVW, and throughout the remainder of the influenza season.Â
During NIVW, CDC will highlight the importance of influenza vaccination for all people at high risk, the people who live with or care for them, and anyone who wants to be protected from influenza. CDC, Families Fighting Flu, and other partners also have set aside Tuesday, Nov. 27, as National Childrens Flu Vaccination Day, to put a special focus on the importance of vaccinating high-risk children and the people close to them.
Vaccination levels are not where we want them to be among children or the people who have close contact with them, said Schuchat.Â So we are devoting a day to encourage all parents who want to protect their children from influenza to have them vaccinated, and get themselves vaccinated as well.
CDCs current recommendations state that all children should get a flu vaccine each year starting at 6 months of age up to their 5th birthday.Â
Flu can be a serious illness at any age. Children less than 2 years old are nearly as likely to be hospitalized with influenza as people aged 65 and older, and children between the ages of 2 and 5 are more likely to be taken to a doctor, an urgent care center, or the emergency room because of flu.Â Each year in the United States more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized due to influenza. Children six months to 18 years of age with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, are also at high risk of having serious flu-related complications and should be vaccinated every year. Children under 6 months of age are the group of kids most likely to get serious complications from the flu, but they are too young to get a vaccine. The best way to protect them is to make sure that every member of their household and all of their caregivers are vaccinated.