Protect yourself against the 2013-2014 flu viruses: Dr. Mona - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Protect yourself against the 2013-2014 flu viruses: Dr. Mona Khanna

Posted: Updated:
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

WRITTEN BY: Mona Khanna, MD, MPH, FACP, FACPM, FACOEM

It's not too early to start thinking about protecting yourself against the 2013-2014 influenza viruses.

Parents, when you go in to see your kids' pediatricians for those school and athletic physicals, be sure to ask when the vaccine will arrive so you can be assured of getting it. It takes 2 weeks for your body to develop the antibodies needed to fight off infection AFTER you get vaccinated.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone older than 6 months be vaccinated, unless you've had a serious reaction to the vaccine in the past, vaccination is especially important if you have a chronic medical condition such as heart, lung, kidney, liver or metabolic disease (like diabetes).

Pregnant women and patients on chemotherapy should also be protected, as should healthcare workers, caregivers and daycare workers. A relatively new high-risk category is the obese.

Remember that the most important reason for vaccination is to prevent the most serious complications of the flu that can hospitalize or kill you. For example, although the symptoms of flu infection, such as deep body aches, are terribly uncomfortable, influenza pneumonia is more serious because it can be deadly.

Last, you have some choices about how you want to be vaccinated this year:

For those 65 years and older, there is a more potent flu vaccine called high-dose that increases your body's protective antibodies against the flu viruses than the standard flu vaccine.

If you are between 18 and 64 and dislike those deep muscle shots, there's a new smaller needle that deposits the vaccine only skin deep.

If you REALLY dislike needles and are healthy and between 2 and 49, you can use the nasal spray instead of the shot.

Most children younger than 9 need two doses of ½-strength-each vaccine, separated by at least 28 days.

Go to flushot.healthmap.org to plug in your zip code and find the nearest flu vaccine provider near you!

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