Do you deal with a chronic health condition? Maybe you have diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, Celiac or Crohn's disease, asthma or other lung condition or any number of other health issues. Maybe you have a long term illness such as cancer?
All of these things put you at higher risk for complications from the flu. Getting a flu vaccine is even more important for you than it is for the general public because you are more likely to suffer from more severe symptoms and develop complications. When you have a chronic condition, it can be harder for your body to fight off infections like the flu.
If you have asthma or another lung disease:
- Flu Shots for People With Asthma
- How the Flu Affects People With Asthma
- The Importance of Flu Shots in COPD
If you have Celiac, Crohn's or another GI condition:
- Study Finds Celiac Disease Patients Have Higher Flu Hospitalization Risk
- Preventing the Flu When You Have Inflammatory Bowel Diseaes (IBD)
If you have cancer:
If you have heart disease:
If you have HIV/AIDS:
If you have Diabetes:
If you have any other chronic health conditions, you probably need a flu vaccine too. Be sure to talk to your health care provider to determine which one is right for you.
Seasonal flu affects older adults (over the age of 65) significantly more than any other age group. 90% of flu deaths in a typical year occur in people over the age of 65. This makes vaccination for this age group critical.
If you fall into this category or know someone who does, there are a couple of flu vaccine options out there to consider. First is the traditional flu shot.
However there is also the high-dose flu shot, designed specifically for older adults whose immune systems may not respond as well to the traditional vaccine. It contains more antigen, which is prompts the body to create antibodies and provide more protection from the flu.
If you over the age of 65 or you care for someone that is, be sure to get your flu vaccine.
- How the Flu Affects Older Adults
- Flu Shots for the Elderly
- Flu Vaccines and Alzheimer's Disease
- Flu Risk for Seniors
- Why You Need a Flu Shot if You're Over 50
Kids don't typically share their toys very well, but they are really good at sharing germs. The flu is no exception and it can spread like wildfire through daycares and schools during flu season.
Since the flu is contagious even before symptoms appear, it is difficult to prevent the spread once it has started. The best way to protect your child is to get them vaccinated.
If your child is between the ages of 6 months and 8 years and has never had a flu vaccine before, she will need two doses. The first dose "primes" the immune system and the second dose provides protection.
Unfortunately kids under 6 months old can't get the vaccine, so it is even more important for those around babies in this age group (members of the household and care providers) to get vaccinated.
Some kids may be able to get the nasal spray vaccine, which may help alleviate the fear of shots that many children face.
- Why Do Kids Need Flu Shots?
- Does My Child Really Need a Flu Shot?
- Fact Sheet: The Importance of Flu Vaccines for Caregivers
- How the Flu Affects Babies and Children
- Flu Vaccine for Premature Babies
Pregnancy is a unique time in a woman's life. Unfortunately, being pregnant also makes you more likely to get sick. This includes getting the flu, which is serious if you are pregnant. Studies have shown that pregnant women have higher chances of complications from the flu (including miscarriage) than women that aren't pregnant and a significantly higher death rate was found in pregnant women during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.
Although you may have concerns about the safety of the flu shot during pregnancy, it has repeatedly been found to be safe for both mother and baby and it even provides protection for baby for up to 6 months after birth.
Getting the flu puts you and your baby at a much higher risk than getting the flu shot.
At this time, the traditional flu shot is the only type of flu vaccine approved during pregnancy, so you can't get the nasal spray vaccine.
As always, if you have concerns about your health, you baby's health or the flu vaccine, talk to your health care provider to determine what is best for you.
In all honesty, any one of us can get the flu. However, it is more serious for some people than others and certain groups are more likely to suffer from serious complications.
These high risk groups include:
- Older Adults (over age 65)
- Young Children (under age 5 with an even greater risk under age 2)
- Pregnant Women
- Those with Chronic Health Conditions (heart disease, diabetes, chronic lung diseases, etc)
Later this week we will talk about how the flu affects all of these groups and the importance of flu vaccines for them. Today, I want to stress the importance of flu vaccines for the rest of us. Even though you may not fall into one of these categories, if you get the flu, you are spreading the flu. Since you can spread it up to a day before you even know you have it, you could be passing it on to someone that is high risk without even knowing it.
Even though you may not think the flu is a life threatening illness for you, it could be for someone you spread it to without even knowing it. Do your part and get your flu shot.
- Fact Sheet: What You Need to Know About the Flu
- Your Flu Vaccine Options
- Where to Find a Flu Shot Near You
December 8 - 14, 2013 has been designated as National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) this year. The CDC and organizations around the country are getting the message out this week that it is not too late to get your flu vaccine!
Right now, flu activity is still low across much of the country but it will be increasing soon. Since the vaccine takes 2 weeks to be effective, getting one as soon as possible is your best bet to avoid the flu.
The flu is a serious illness, not just a bad cold. Getting a flu vaccine doesn't guarantee that you won't get the flu but it's our best source of protection and you are much less likely to be severely impacted by the flu if you have been vaccinated against it.
To learn more about NIVW and see what events are occurring near you, see:
Be sure to check back here every day this week. We'll be focusing on how the flu affects different groups of people and why the vaccine is so important. You might learn something!
December 1st-7th, 2013 has been designated as National Handwashing Awareness Week in the United States. Hand washing is such an important thing to do to prevent the spread of germs and keep yourself healthy but way too many people neglect to do it when they should or are not doing it correctly.
Do you know how to wash your hands properly? It's not difficult but it's easy to do it wrong if you aren't thinking about it.
Of course there are several products on the market that are aimed at making proper hand washing easier. If you are interested in any of them, we have reviews and information about them.
Are you pregnant or know someone who is? Do you have a baby that is under a year old? Sign up for the text4baby program and get helpful tips sent to you as text messages three times a week - completely free.
This great program was started by the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition in partnership with Johnson & Johnson as a way to bring health tips and information to pregnant and new moms right where they are. You can get appointment reminders, nutrition tips, information about illness prevention and treatment and more.
This year, Rite Aid has joined the program and is offering up to 10,000 coupon codes for FREE flu shots to women enrolled in the program that live near Rite Aid locations.
If you or someone you know is pregnant or has recently had a baby, this is a great program, costs you nothing and can bring enormous health benefits. Find out more about the program and see how to sign up here:
If you are interested in the free flu vaccine program from Rite Aid, sign up soon! The promotion ends on December 9th!
With Thanksgiving upon us again, I want to take a moment and give thanks.
Thank you to my readers - for stopping by when you are sick and when you are healthy.
Thank you to the About.com staff - you may not realize this site is part of a much larger company and the people that keep it going behind the scenes are pretty incredible.
Thank you to my fellow
Guides Experts - you are all inspiring, wonderful writers.
Thank you to my family - for believing in me and giving me plenty of topics to write about!
Thank you all for making the past 7 years great. I am lucky to be able to write for you about these topics that I believe in. You may not agree with everything you read here, but I am glad you took the time to stop by. I do my very best to make sure everything I write is accurate, interesting and relevant.
Wherever you are this Thanksgiving, I hope you are giving thanks for the things that bring you joy in your life. Enjoy the food, family and fun. Be safe in your travels - and don't forget to wash your hands!
- Staying Healthy While You Travel
- Avoiding Germs When You are Hosting Thanksgiving
- How to Wash Your Hands
Pregnancy is a unique time in a woman's life. It's the only time you will ever be completely responsible for the lives of two people with every action you take. This kind of responsibility can be overwhelming for some people and can make decisions such as what to eat, drink and do difficult. Even if they aren't overwhelming, being pregnant may make you think twice about certain things - like getting a flu shot.
You don't want to do anything that will harm your baby and you may question whether getting a vaccine while you are pregnant is really a good idea.
When it comes to flu vaccines and pregnancy, the evidence is clear. The flu is significantly more dangerous for pregnant women than it is for their non-pregnant counterparts and the flu vaccine has been shown to be both safe and effective at any point during a pregnancy. There is even evidence that it can protect your baby for up to six months after she is born - which is great since she can't get her own flu vaccine until she is six months old.
The flu is not an illness to take lightly. It can and does kill pregnant women and infants at a higher rate than many other groups.
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant this flu season, don't wait. Talk to your health care provider and get vaccinated now.