October marks the beginning of flu season and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges those at the highest risk of severe illness during the flu season to get their shots early. For the first time, infants and toddlers are considered in the high risk category because recent research suggests children under age 2 are as likely to be hospitalized with flu complications such as pneumonia as are people over age 65 – the age group long thought to be at highest risk.
Parents with children in this age range should have their child vaccinated as early as possible to ensure they’re protected before influenza reaches its peak activity.
According to the CDC, other high-risk people include:
Everyone over age 50
Anyone with chronic medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to the flu, such as heart or lung disorders including asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, or weak immune systems
Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
Women who will be more than three months pregnant during the flu season
Children of any age on long-term aspirin therapy
Health care professionals
Even if you’re not at high risk of complications, you should get a flu shot to prevent the flu and to protect those around you. Many area clinics and hospitals offer the flu vaccine for free or at a low cost. Talk to your doctor or contact your local hospital for more information.