Q&A: Flu Shots
Q: My 9-year-old daughter has asthma. She had her flu shot late in the season in April 2009. Should I take her to get another one now or is there a time period to wait since she has already received one in 2009?
A: Flu viruses change from year to year. You can get influenza more than once during your lifetime. The immunity that is built up from having influenza caused by one virus strain doesn’t always provide protection when a new strain is circulating. Also, a vaccine made against influenza viruses that circulated last year may not protect you against the newer viruses. That is why the influenza vaccine is updated to include current viruses every year. I would recommend that you get your child immunized with the current season’s influenza vaccine.
The American Lung Association’s Faces of Influenza campaign encourages Americans to see themselves and their loved ones among the many “faces” of influenza – people who fall into one or more target groups recommended for annual vaccination by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which includes adults and children with chronic health problems, like asthma.
Vaccination typically begins in October and can continue through March. In most seasons, influenza virus activity peaks in February or March, so vaccination throughout the entire influenza season is beneficial and recommended.
Q&A: Asthma and H1N1
Q: Am I considered a high risk candidate for H1N1 flu infection if my asthma has been dormant for more than fourteen years?
A: I recommend that you ask your doctor or health care provider if you have a current diagnosis of asthma. If your doctor or health care provider considers you to have active asthma, you fall under the priority groups recommended for A (H1N1) vaccination by the CDC, which also include:
· Children and young adults aged 6 months to 24 years
· Adults aged 24 to 65 years who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma
· People who care for infants under 6 months of age
· Pregnant women
· Health care workers
In order to provide optimal protection against influenza and its complications, it’s also important to get your seasonal flu shot, if you haven’t already done so. According to the CDC, immunization is especially important for those who are at high risk for developing serious complications from the flu, like hospitalization and death. These groups can be found on www.facesofinfluenza.org, and include:
· Anyone who wants to prevent influenza
· All children 6 months through 18 years of age
· People who are 50 years of age and older
· Pregnant women
· People with chronic medical conditions like asthma
· Residents of long-term care or nursing homes
· Anyone who comes in contact with high-risk groups – including health-care professionals, parents and caregivers