"This year's National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 8-14, 2013 provides an opportunity for health care providers to tell people how important it is to get an annual flu vaccination," said Joyce Ziegler, RNC, Community Health Services Director at the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department. "Getting vaccinated is the single best way for people to protect not only themselves against flu, but also their loved ones as well."
An annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu as well as flu-related complications that could lead to severe illness, hospitalization and even death, Health Department officials said.
Health experts across the country recommend that everyone, 6 months and older, get a flu vaccine. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, missed work due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Influenza is among the most common respiratory illnesses in the United States, infecting millions of people every flu season.
Every year, flu spreads across the country, from person to person, among families and communities. The severity of flu illness can vary from mild to severe.
When severe, flu complications can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death, officials said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that from the 1976-1977 season to the 2006-2007 flu season, flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.
And each year it's estimated that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized because of flu-related complications.
Over the years, the number of people recommended for flu vaccination has grown steadily as experts have learned more about who is at high risk for flu complications or who bears the greatest burden of illness and is likely to spread flu in the community.
Scientists and public health experts have come to recognize that while influenza is particularly dangerous for certain people, it can cause severe illness and even death for anyone, regardless of whether or not they are "high risk," officials said.
Even healthy children and young adults can get very sick from the flu.
Each flu season, different flu viruses can spread, and they can affect people differently based on their body's ability to fight infection. Since flu viruses are constantly changing and immunity can decline over time, annual vaccination is needed for optimal protection.
People with certain long-term health conditions are at high risk of suffering from serious flu complications.
Last season, nearly 92 percent of adults hospitalized with flu had a long-term health condition; as did about 55 percent of children reported to be hospitalized for flu.
Asthma, diabetes and chronic heart disease are common examples of long-term health conditions.
A flu vaccine is the first and best way to prevent influenza and is particularly important in people who are at high risk of serious flu complications.
For more information about influenza and the influenza vaccination visit www.cdc.gov/flu.
For an appointment for the influenza vaccination contact your health care provider or the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department at 774-1868 or (906) 265-9913.