CDC: Two groups highly recommended for flu vaccine

August 18, 2011 3:26:23 PM PDT
Labor day, cooling weather, flu shots, they follow each other without fail. Today, the CDC started sounding the bell about the flu shots we all need to be getting this coming fall. Two groups in particular are underlined.

Again this year, recommendations for flu shots start with the very young, babies from 6 months and up.

Last year was the first time the CDC recommended little babies six months and older be inoculated against the flu and it's the same this year.

Prior to that, the vulnerable babies are still protected by their mother's antibodies, and that is why the CDC is encouraging all pregnant women to get their flu shots because pregnant women are more vulnerable to flu-related hospitalizations and illness. But only half of women who were pregnant got their flu shot last year.

The CDC says many women do not get the shots because they worry about possible harm to their fetus.

Not so, says Obstetrician Dr. Jacques Moritz.

"Women are very concerned about this. Even if you don't do it at other times, you need to do it when you're pregnant," Moritz said.

Anyone working in healthcare also needs to get vaccinated, according to the CDC. One-third of health care workers still do not get the vaccines, but the rates are much are much better when offered at the workplace.

This year's flu vaccine will be exactly the same as last year. It will protect against the exact same flu viruses and that unfortunately may lead some to think they do not need to get a flu shot. No one can tell yet how serious a flu season it will be. The shot is insurance against sickness.

"It appears that the flu vaccine doesn't give you lasting immunity. You probably have some immunity, but it may not be enough to fight the influenza," Moritz said.

Exceptions to that are people with egg allergies. Also children under age 9, who got a shot last year, may only need one booster this year. Elderly people also need to get the special "high dose" shot; it's given in the skin rather than in the muscle.