You vs. Flu: 5 things you may not know

(ARA) – Flu season is here, and there are simple, everyday actions you can take to help you and your family stay healthy. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you sneeze, and avoid contact with those who are sick.

But the most important thing you can do to prevent the flu is get vaccinated each year. CVS pharmacist Shirley Scott offers five things you may not know about flu vaccination.

1. Even if you were vaccinated last year or early in 2011, you still need to get a flu shot this year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone ages 6 months or older should get a flu shot, including those who were vaccinated last season. The flu vaccine’s ability to help protect you declines from one year to the next. So even though the vaccine has the same ingredients as last season, you still need to get a flu shot. Remember that vaccination is your first line of defense against the flu.

2. You should get a flu shot as early as possible.
It takes about two weeks for your body to develop full protection against flu symptoms. Seasonal flu can be unpredictable, and even healthy people can get seriously ill from the flu. For best protection, it’s important to get a flu shot as soon as it is available.

3. Flu vaccinations are easier than ever to obtain.
A CDC report released in June 2011 shows that retail pharmacies are becoming an increasingly popular destination for flu vaccines. Flu shots are available from immunizing pharmacists at more than 7,200 CVS/pharmacy stores and by nurse practitioners and physician assistants at more than 500 MinuteClinic locations nationwide. Flu vaccinations are available every day with no appointment necessary, including evenings and weekends.

4. You may be able to get a flu shot at no cost.
Many insurance plans cover flu vaccinations. With the expansion of health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, many preventive health care services, including the seasonal flu vaccine, are available to even more individuals at no cost than ever before. Most seniors are covered by Medicare Part B. CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic also offer direct medical billing to many national and regional health insurance plans for a flu shot this season.

5. There’s a new vaccine that offers seniors another choice to protect themselves against the flu.
This year, Fluzone High-Dose, a new vaccine designed specifically for people 65 years and older, is available. This higher dose vaccine provides stronger protection to this age group, which is at greater risk of severe illness from the flu. Fluzone High-Dose is comprised of the same ingredients as the standard flu shot, but causes the body to produce more of the disease fighting substances that provide protection against the flu.

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