Q: When does flu season start? And when is the best time to get immunized?
A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people be vaccinated against influenza (aka the flu) as soon as the vaccine is available, and many doctors' offices and other facilities in the state already are offering the vaccine (either as a shot or a nasal spray). Though flu typically peaks in January or February, the season can start as early as October. In fact, Scott Brennan, a registered nurse who manages two urgent care centers run by St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, said he has already seen at least one case of the flu. "Some might say that it seems a little early (for the flu shot), but it's already here," he said.
Q: Who needs to be vaccinated?
A: The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months or older receive a shot, but it's particularly important for those with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma and diabetes); pregnant women; those 65 years or older; and those who regularly care for those with asthma, diabetes and other chronic issues. Groups in weakened conditions are at greater risk for developing complications if they catch the flu.
Q: Do I need a flu shot every year?
Q: How bad is this flu season supposed to be?
A: Most experts said it's too soon to predict. "This year will unfold at its own pace," said Dr. Michael Parry, director of infectious diseases and microbiology at Stamford Hospital. Or as Dworkin put it, "if you've seen one flu season, you've seen one flu season." But "there are some rumblings that this is going to be a really bad winter," said Dr. Zane Saul, chief of infectious diseases at Bridgeport Hospital. He said a harsh winter means people are likely to spend more time indoors, in close contact with other people. "That's often how these things spread," he said.
Q: Is there enough vaccine to go around?
A: Yes, said all the experts, including Jodie Boldrighini, registered nurse and manager of operations for Greenwich Hospital Occupational Health Services. Though the hospital has experienced only "moderate traffic" for flu shots, Boldrighini said, if there's an influx of vaccine seekers, Greenwich is ready. "We are prepared with ample vaccine and know that we can handle an increase of volume."
Q: So where do I get it?
A: The vaccine is offered in a variety of places, from doctors' offices to health clinics to pharmacies and health departments. Possibly the best way to find a place near you is to use the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Flu Vaccine Finder. Visit http://www.flu.gov/prevention-vaccination/vaccination/index.html, scroll down to where it says "Where can I get the vaccine?" and enter your ZIP code. You'll soon see a map of all the places where vaccine is available.
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