CDC looks to reach at-risk groups during National Influenza Vaccination Week

ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set aside the week of Dec. 5 to observe this season's National Influenza Vaccination Week. The week-long emphasis on flu vaccination was established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination, as well as foster greater use of flu vaccine after the holiday season into January and beyond.

One of the many goals for NIVW is to engage at-risk audiences who are not yet vaccinated, are hesitant about vaccination or are unsure about where to get vaccinated. Each day of National Influenza Vaccination Week is designated to highlight the importance for certain groups — including families, older adults and people with such high-risk conditions as diabetes, asthma and heart problems — to get vaccinated.

However, the CDC for the first time is advising that everyone older than 6 months be vaccinated. “The new vaccination recommendation shows the importance of preventing the flu in everyone,” stated Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service and the CDC's director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “People who do not get vaccinated are taking two risks: First, they are placing themselves at risk for the flu, including a potentially long and serious illness, and second, if they get sick, they are also placing their close contacts at risk for influenza.”

To date, approximately 160 million doses of the flu vaccine have been distributed nationwide.

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