Protect Yourself and Your Family from the Flu This Season

Oct 8, 2013


While it is important to get vaccinated against the flu virus as early as possible, it is never too late to reap the benefits of this vaccine. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the peak months for the spread of the flu virus are January and February and the season can last into mid-May.

Those at highest risk of complications from the flu are young children; people 65 and older; pregnant women; and people with health conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease, or a weakened immune system.

"Adults age 65 and older face the greatest risk of serious complications and even death as a result of influenza. That is why it is so important that they get immunized. Even when older adults contract the flu after immunization, which can happen, those cases tend to be less severe and of shorter duration," says Dr. Mark Lachs, co-chief of geriatrics at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

"It is important that all children get immunized against this illness," says Dr. Gerald Loughlin, pediatrician-in-chief at the Phyllis and David Komansky Center for Children's Health at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "With rare exceptions, everyone over 6 months should get vaccinated, as children are especially vulnerable."

Dr. Lachs and Dr. Loughlin offer the following guidelines to help protect everyone, especially the most vulnerable populations, from catching the flu this season:

  • Get your family members vaccinated. The CDC recommends vaccination of everyone older than 6 months with rare exceptions.
  • Get vaccinated early. The flu vaccine is most effective when administered during the fall months, before the onset of flu season.
  • It's never too late. The flu season begins in the fall and can last through the spring, so if you do not get vaccinated in October you can still be immunized in December or January.
  • Know your options. A nasal vaccine is available for healthy children from age two and over, and for adults up to the age of 49. There are some restrictions so check with your doctor first. This year there are quadrivalent vaccines that protect against an additional strain and are available in some locations.
  • Stop the spread of germs. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, wash your hands often, and stay home if you are sick.

Physicians and nurses at the Komansky Center for Children's Health at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell strongly urge parents to have their children immunized early to make sure they have optimal protection during December and January, when flu epidemics are at their peak.

For more information, patients may call 866-NYP-NEWS.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, based in New York City, is one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive hospitals, with some 2,600 beds. In 2012, the Hospital had nearly 2 million inpatient and outpatient visits, including 12,758 deliveries and 215,946 visits to its emergency departments. NewYork-Presbyterian's 6,144 affiliated physicians and 20,154 staff provide state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at six major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital. One of the most comprehensive health care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation's leading medical colleges: Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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