Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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September 5, 2013

Get children vaccinated

Autumn has begun knocking on our screen doors. A few trees have begun dropping leaves before their winter slumber.

Still too early for the annual ritual of getting a flu shot, right?

Not so, the American Academy of Pediatrics said Monday. Parents should get themselves and their children inoculated as soon as possible, the academy said.

And with that message comes a relatively new one from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Everyone 6 months or older should get vaccinated – even if they got a flu vaccine last season.

In the past, the recommendation was for anyone between 19 and 49 as well as other high-risk groups. The CDC determined the annual vaccine was “a safe and effective preventative health action with potential benefit in all age groups.”

The shots are extremely important to children, especially those in school and day care who are exposed each day to numerous other children.

Parents should make sure children 6 months through 8 years old get two doses of the 2013-14 vaccine if they have never received the vaccine before.

Children under 5 — especially those 2 or younger — adults 65 or older and pregnant women are considered to be at high risk for developing flu-related complications.

Others considered to be high risk are people with asthma, diabetes, chronic lung disease, heart disease and those with kidney, liver and blood disorders or people with weakened immune systems and the morbidly obese.

Health care workers also are encouraged to get immunized. Community Howard Regional Health has begun requiring all employees, physicians, volunteers, vendors and health care students to be vaccinated against the flu.

The vaccine is updated each year to include influenza strains that are expected to be the main viruses. Among those covered by this year’s vaccine is H3N2v, a variant of H1N1 which caused the first flu pandemic in more than 40 years in 2009.

A case of the flu is no fun, and in some cases, it can even be deadly. Get your shot and increase your chances of staying healthy this winter.

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