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Avoid Influenza and Pneumonia This Winter: Get Your Flu Shot Today

Although flu season is on its way, there are ways to protect yourself from it.

By getting a flu shot in the fall, you can greatly reduce your risk of becoming seriously ill if you get the flu, according to California Medical Review Inc. (CMRI).

What's So Bad About the Flu

Influenza, also called "the flu," is a serious illness that can lead to pneumonia. Every year in the United States, 110,000 people are hospitalized for influenza-related complications. At least 20,000 Americans die each year from influenza-related causes. Ninety percent of influenza and pneumonia deaths are among people 65 and older.

Who is at Risk

Everyone is at risk of getting the flu and pneumonia. Passed easily from person-to-person, the influenza virus is highly contagious. However, those over the age of 65 are at a greater risk of suffering from influenza-related complications.

What Can You Do

The best advice for those persons looking to protect themselves against the influenza virus is to get a flu shot every year. Not only does the flu shot protect you, you avoid giving it to friends and family. Flu shots are safe, easy and effective. In the United States, influenza is most common from December through April. For this reason, it is best to receive your flu shot between October and mid-November. The vaccine will begin to protect you after about one to two weeks. Remember, however, the strain of influenza virus changes from year to year. Therefore, you will need to get a new flu shot every year. Do not get a flu shot if you are allergic to eggs or if you are currently experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Where Can You Get Your Shots

You can get your flu shot at your doctor's office. You may also be able to get your flu shot from your local health department or other healthcare providers. To find out the locations of clinics distributing flu-shots near you, call the Visiting Nurse Association at (800) 500-2400, or contact your local chapter of the American Lung Association.

Copyright 1999 Health Resources Publishing

© 2000 Health Resources Publishing