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Too late to guard against flu?

Because flu vaccine requires about two weeks to begin providing protection, which lasts about six months, the optimal time to get an annual flu shot is between mid-October and mid-November. If you missed that time slot, however, and are in a group for which flu immunization is recommended, get the shot as soon as you can. Typically, the flu season extends from December through March, and the Type A Beijing strain expected this year is a mean one.

Less than a third of Americans ages 65 and above gets a flu shot each year, yet this is the most likely group to suffer bronchitis and pneumonia, flu's main complications. Other groups at risk are: those with chronic lung or heart disorders (including children with asthma), those with other chronic systemic disorders, youngsters on long-term aspirin therapy for arthritis and related disorders, and those who care for such persons.

Although the vaccine is only 90 percent effective in young people (and less so in the elderly), the disease spreads less readily when more persons are vaccinated against it. Therefore, even those not in high-risk groups should consider having a flu shot.
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Title Annotation:when to get flu shots
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Dec 1, 1993
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