Friday, October 22, 2010

Seasonal Influenza (Flu)

Flu activity in the United States is low now, making this an excellent time to get a flu vaccine. This season, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated, even if they got a seasonal or 2009 H1N1 vaccine last season. The 2010-2011 flu vaccine has been updated to protect against the three flu viruses that CDC expects will cause the most illness in the United States this season.

Groups at high risk for developing flu-related complications

People who have certain medical conditions are also at high risk for developing flu-related complications:

  • Asthma
  • Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability (mental retardation), moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury].
  • Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis)
  • Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
  • Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
  • Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
  • Weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)
  • People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
  • People who are morbidly obese (Body Mass Index, or BMI, of 40 or greater)

Who Should Not Be Vaccinated

There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a physician. These include:
  • People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
  • People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
  • People who developed Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine.
  • Children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group), and
  • People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)

Where can you get a flu shot?

Adult Immunization & Travel Clinic: AITC is a non-profit, fee-for-service clinic that is part of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. AITC is committed to providing convenient, knowledgeable, personalized, and cost-effective immunization services for travelers, students, new employees, immigrants, and other members of the community. Information is available at