2010 Flu Season: A Look Ahead

  • Published
  • By Anne Schuchat, M.D.
  • Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and
For many people, fall is a time to tune into sports, tackle new projects, and even plan for the holidays. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention--CDC--wants to remind you it also means flu season is on its way. Last year's 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic hit many hard, and should act as a reminder of just how unpredictable flu can be. It can attack even healthy people, and it can send children and adults to the hospital. The first and most important step in protecting against the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season, and CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated.

This season's flu vaccine (both the shot and the nasal spray) has been updated as flu vaccines are every season to protect against the three flu viruses that surveillance indicates will be most common. Experts predict that the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season will continue to spread, as well as two other seasonal flu viruses. Some people are calling this the "triple protection" or "all in one" flu vaccine. But seasonal flu vaccines always protect against three flu viruses. And this year's seasonal flu vaccines are being made in the same way that flu vaccines have been made for decades, during which hundreds of millions of flu vaccines have been given safely.

When you get vaccinated against the flu, you can protect not only yourself, but your family, friends, and others around you, too. Also keep in mind, your flu vaccine helps protect children younger than 6 months of age who are too young to get vaccinated themselves. Your vaccine also reduces the chance of you spreading the flu to those who are at high risk from serious flu complications. As more people are vaccinated against the flu, less flu will spread through your community.

Getting the flu vaccine soon after it becomes available in your community is always a good idea, and the protection you get from vaccination will last throughout the flu season. You can usually find flu vaccines at your local pharmacies, retail stores, and health departments, as well as at your doctor's office or clinic. Don't forget to ask your children's doctor, nurse, or clinic about getting your kids vaccinated, too. Remind your friends and relatives to get vaccinated by sending an 'e-card' from the CDC website!

Visit Flu.gov and the CDC website (www.cdc.gov/flu) for updates throughout the flu season.