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Get Your Flu Shot Now, CDC Urges

Levels of infection are low at the moment, but that's expected to change, experts say

FRIDAY, Oct. 14, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Flu activity levels in the United States are currently low, making it the ideal time to get a flu shot, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

In its first "FluView" report for the 2011-2012 flu season, the federal agency also said there should be plenty of vaccine available this season because the U.S. supply is projected to be at an all-time high.

"It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body's immune response to fully kick in," Dr. Joe Bresee, chief of the Influenza Epidemiology and Prevention Branch, said in a CDC news release. "It's best to get vaccinated before activity begins so that you'll be protected once flu season starts in your community."

The CDC monitors flu activity in the United States year-round and publishes the FluView report every Friday from October through mid-May.

"We know from our first report for this season that influenza activity in the United States is low now, with few people going to the doctor for flu-like symptoms and few respiratory viruses testing positive for flu," Bresee said. "Though we can't predict the exact timing, we expect increases in influenza illness, hospitalizations and deaths in the next few weeks."

As of the end of September, more than 110 million doses of flu vaccine had been delivered in the United States and the total for this season is expected to be 166 million to 173 million doses.

"The good news is that the flu viruses this year's vaccine will protect against are very well matched to those flu viruses that are circulating now, so it's looking like we will have a vaccine that provides good protection this season to help keep influenza illness and serious complications down," Bresee said.

Most everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu shot, the CDC recommends.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about flu prevention.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Oct. 14, 2011
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