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Should I Get a Flu Shot?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state departments of health are telling people to get shots now.

Everyone at least 6 months of age should get a flu shot, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Everyone at least 6 months of age should get a flu shot, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By Jack Tobias

Who should get a flu shot this season?


Everyone at least 6 months of age, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And what does the CDC predict about this flu season?

So far, there are no special warnings. In one of its latest postings, the CDC says overall seasonal influenza activity is currently "low." But elsewhere it adds that activity is expected to increase in coming weeks.

What is expected this year?

The CDC says, "Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. Although epidemics of flu happen every year, the timing, severity and length of the season varies from one year to another." Flu viruses constantly change so it's not unusual for new strains to appear, the CDC says.

When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?

That's unpredictable, the CDC says. Flu activity most commonly peaks in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October.

But the bottom line, the CDC says, is for people to get flu shots now.

And as in years past, Lehigh Valley residents will be able to get that flu shot for free through Lehigh Valley Health Network drive-thru program.

Free flu shots will be given the weekend of Nov. 9 and 10— Nov. 9 (Saturday) at Dorney Park and Nov. 10 at Coca-Cola Park, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Hours on both days will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

You can also check places to get the flu shot with the Vaccine Finder above.

St. Luke's University Health Network, meanwhile, advises on its website that flu shots are available throughout the health network. Primary care offices are offering the vaccinations, as is St. Luke's Community Health Department by calling 484-526-2100.

“Prevention is always better than treatment,” Dr. Jeffrey Jahre, St. Luke's senior vice president for medical and academic affairs and chief, infectious diseases, says on the network's website.

“Although everyone is at risk to catch the flu, severity of symptoms and risk of complications may increase in the very young, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems," Jahre says. "In order to help those populations avoid the flu, we recommend theflu shot for everyone. Children are usually adept at avoiding harsh flu symptoms because they have strong immune systems, but children shed flu germs over a longer incubation period and may infect an elderly relative or caregiver with a weaker immune system.”

Who's at high risk?

Although the CDC, like Jahre, urges everyone to get a flu shot, its says the shots are especially important for certain people, including:

—People at high risk of developing serious complications (like pneumonia) if they get sick with the flu. They include: people who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease; pregnant women; people younger than age 5 (and especially those younger than 2), and people age 65 and older.

—People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications. They include household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease; household contacts and caregivers of infants less than 6 months old, and health care personnel.

Where can I get more information?

The CDC provides more information such as: What is the flu shot? What are the risks of getting a shot? Can the flu shot give me the flu?

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