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Survey: Two-Thirds of Americans Plan to Get Flu Vaccine

CDC Says 170 Million Doses of Flu Vaccine Will Be Available This Flu Season

Types of Flu Vaccine continued...

Because influenza doesn't usually peak until January or February, "now is a great time to get the flu vaccine," said Frieden, who rolled up his sleeve and received his shot during the news conference. "It looks like we're going to have a vaccine that's very well-matched to the circulating strains."

For only the eighth time in 42 years, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, the same strains are circulating two years in a row, including H1N1 (swine flu), so this year's vaccine is the same as last year's. Still, adults who were immunized last year need to do it again this year, Frieden says, because the flu vaccine's effectiveness wanes over the course of a year.

Schaffner says his group's annual survey of adults found that the fact this year's strains are identical to last year's won't dissuade most from getting immunized.

Vaccines for Children

Because this season's vaccine is the same as last season's, young children who received the vaccine last year need only one dose this year, instead of the usual two. But children 6 months to 8 years old who are being immunized for the first time still need two doses at least four weeks apart.

Last year in the U.S., at least 114 children and teens under age 18 died as a result of the flu, and only half of them had an underlying health problem that placed them at higher risk, said American Academy of Pediatrics President Marion Burton, MD, at the news conference. Burton is also director of community pediatrics at the University of South Carolina.

This year, seven in 10 parents said they'll "definitely" or "probably" get their children vaccinated against the flu, according to the infectious disease foundation's annual survey of parents. The percentages are higher for parents of children 10 and under and lower for those whose children are 11 through 17. More than one in 10 parents said they don't know whether they're going to get their kids immunized.

Richard Beigi, MD, MSc, representing the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists at the news conference, emphasized the importance of flu vaccination for pregnant women. During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, 347 pregnant women became severely ill with H1N1 flu, and about 20% of them died.

"Flu vaccine during pregnancy is safe for both mothers and babies," says Beigi, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh. He says the mother's immunization protects her newborn for several months, until he or she is old enough to be vaccinated.

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