It is flu-shot season again, and for the second year in a row CDC officials recommend universal vaccination for everyone over six months old–with just a few caveats.
The CDC expanded its recommendation last year in an effort to increase vaccination rates. It used to stress that children, older adults, and other high-risk individuals get the shot.
Last year, vaccination for kids nationwide increased by about seven percent but held steady at 40 percent for adults.
Mary Pollice, nurse practitioner with Jefferson Pulmonary Associates, said there are still many misconceptions about who should get the shot.
“I can’t get my own boyfriend to get the flu shot because he’s not over the age of 65, he doesn’t have a chronic lung disease, and he’s not two years old,” Pollice said.
She stresses the greater good when encouraging patients to get vaccinated.
“There are a lot of people that do still die from influenza,” Pollice said. “The more people that get vaccinated the less flu deaths there will be.”
It takes about six months to produce, package and ship the flu vaccine, so health officials picked the strains to be included in this year’s formulation back in February.
Tom Skinner of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the shot covers the same strains as last year.
“We have surveillance systems set up around the world, where people come into doctor’s offices,” Skinner said, “and we’re able to monitor what strains of influenza are circulating the globe at any particular time so that when our flu season rolls around we have a pretty good idea of what may circulate in our country.”
Even though the vaccine is the same as last year, Skinner said resistance wanes over time. Those who got flu shots last year should get them again for optimal protection.
Pollice and Jefferson are hosting a question-and-answer session in Philadelphia Wednesday for people with questions about the flu vaccine.