Don’t Panic Over Flu — But Do Get A Flu Shot, Say Experts

The states colored brown in this map from the Centers for Disease Control shows where flu activity is widespread. You see that California is currently seeing “regional” activity.

(Centers for Disease Control)

If you’re worried about contracting the flu, the CDC says that an annual flu vaccine “is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others.” The CDC recommends everyone over age 6 months go ahead and get the shot. Today in a release, Dr. Ron Chapman of the California Department of Public Health also urged Californians to be vaccinated.

“California is seeing an accelerated increase in flu activity over the past few weeks,” said Dr. Chapman in a statement. “You can help prevent further spread of the flu by getting a flu shot.”

Deborah Schoch wrote about California’s experience with the flu so far this winter on CHCF’s Center for Health Reporting blog:

“Californians have a little more time to prepare,” said Dr. Carol Glaser, chief of special investigations in the department’s Division of Communicable Disease Control.  The rate of flu cases here is still much lower than, say, Boston, where the mayor on Wednesday declared a state of emergency.

Still, Glaser cautioned, “That’s not to say our numbers could flip dramatically tomorrow.”

Experts are calling 2012-13 one of the worst flu seasons of the decade, due in part to the influenza Type A strain H3N2 that is making people sicker and keeping them sick for weeks. …

Protection against H3N2 is included in the vaccine mix for 2012-13.  And you can get that vaccine close to home — say, at your local pharmacy

A flu shot can take about two weeks to create an effective shield.

Despite what people may say, the flu shot cannot give you the flu. Sometimes people get the flu immediately after being vaccinated. In this case, it’s not the shot that caused the illness, but the fact that you became infected by the virus before the vaccine had a chance to create that effective shield.

In general, the flu vaccine is only about 60 percent effective — although experts say the vaccine offers at least some protection, meaning that if you get sick, you’ll hopefully have an easier bout with the illness.

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