High Risk Enrollees - Get Your Flu Vaccine!

From the GIC Fall 2003 Newsletter pdf format of fybfall2003.pdf

Whether you are in a store, on the train, at the movies, or at home with loved ones this fall and winter, you could be exposed to this year's strain of influenza (the flu). For most, flu is an unpleasant inconvenience with symptoms ranging from headaches to fever and chills and a sore throat. However, especially for the elderly and other high-risk individuals, the flu can be deadly. An average of 36,000 deaths in the U.S. are caused by influenza.

The flu is highly contagious. If a person with the flu coughs, sneezes or even just talks, he or she will send the virus into the air where others can inhale it into their nose or throat. A person with the flu is contagious a day before symptoms start for a period of up to a week. Children are contagious even longer.

If you or a household member falls within any of the following categories, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' recommends that you get a flu shot in October or earlier:

  • People 50 years of age and older
  • Young children from 6 months through 23 months of age
  • Health care workers
  • People with long-term health problems, such as heart disease, lung disease or asthma, and residents of long-term care facilities

Others who want to reduce their chances for getting influenza may wait until November or even December to get their flu shot. The vaccine begins to offer protection two weeks after getting the shot. Influenza season usually peaks between January and March. Influenza viruses change often, so it is important to get vaccinated annually.

Before getting vaccinated, talk with your doctor if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction to eggs or to a previous dose of influenza vaccine. To find out where you can get your flu shot, contact your doctor or health plan. For additional information about flu and the vaccine, visit the Massachusetts of Department Public Health web site.

This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission .