Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Flu shot: Your best bet for avoiding influenza

A flu shot protects you from coming down with influenza. While it may not always provide total protection, it's certainly worth getting.

Influenza is a respiratory infection that can cause serious complications, and flu immunizations are the most effective way to prevent it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age or older be vaccinated annually.

The influenza viruses selected for inclusion in the seasonal flu vaccine are updated each year based on information about which viruses are being found, how they are spreading, and how well the previous season's vaccine might protect against new viruses discovered in the current year.

National influenza centers in over 100 countries conduct year-round surveillance for influenza viruses and disease activity. These laboratories send found viruses for additional analyses to the five World Health 

Organization Collaborating Centers, which are located in the following places:

Atlanta, Georgia, the CDC; London, the National Institute for Medical Research;

Melbourne, Australia's Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory;

Tokyo, Japan's National Institute for Infectious Diseases; and

Beijing, China's National Institute for Viral Disease Control.

The fall seasonal vaccine protects against the three main groups of viruses currently circulating in humans. 

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