Flu season means it's time for flu shots
After years of advising people with egg allergies to avoid flu shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its stance.
CDC guidelines say some people with a history of egg allergies may receive flu shots this year. However, the national center suggests people with egg allergies check with their doctors to see if they should take it.
Aside from the small group of people with allergic reactions to the shot, the CDC recommends nearly everyone get vaccinated against influenza, the medical name for the flu. Some groups - children six months of age and older and people who work around them, healthcare workers and people who work, older adults and other people with a higher risk of severe flu and their close contacts- are strongly encouraged to receive flu shots.
John Viteritti, DO, medical director for Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania with emergency room experience, said people should get flu shots in the late summer or early fall and added that pregnant women, people with chronic lung and heart conditions and people with cancer should make a point to receive the vaccine. While not a guarantee of flu prevention, he said flu shots dramatically decrease chances of getting the contagious disease and limits the impact if exposed to it.
"It fills the immune system to handle exposure to the flu virus," Dr. Viteritti said. Most insurance covers flu shots, as do Medicare and Medicaid.
Since flu season often overlaps with cold weather, more people tend to stay indoors around others, increasing exposure. Dr. Viteritti also encourages people to practice good hygiene and limit close contact with people who may be sick.
Many workplaces take flu prevention seriously and provide multiple opportunities for employees to receive flu shots. Geisinger-Community Medical Center and other Geisinger Health Systems hospitals and clinics have a "Shield Yourself 2012" campaign with a goal of having 95 percent of the company's employees receive flu shots. Employees and physicians who get the shot will put a sticker on their ID badges. From mid-November until March, Geisinger employees who do not receive the shot must wear masks covering their noses and mouths if within six feet of another person.
"That's how serious we are about making sure our patient population and workforce are kept healthy," said Wendy Wilson, spokeswoman for GCMC.
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org, @rwardTT on Twitter.