Because last year was a relatively mild flu season, San Bernardino County Health Officer Dr. Maxwell Ohikhaure and others are concerned that some will not want a flu shot this year.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a goal of 80 percent immunization rate across the country, although newly released statistics for last year's season showed an immunization rate of only 42 percent.
Dr. Michael Siegel, medical director of Long Beach-based Molina Healthcare, and other doctors note that expanded guidelines for who should get a flu shot now include "just about everyone who has a heartbeat."
This includes pregnant women and people who say "'I never get sick,"' said Siegel.The flu season begins in October and ends in May, according to the CDC.
This year's flu shot has two strains, which were not part of last year's version.
Although last year's flu season was "very mild," officials are reluctant to predict what will happen this year.
"Expect anything in flu season," Ohikhaure said.
Siegel said that it especially important for everyone living in a household with small children to get immunized.
"Kids are breeding grounds for flu," Siegel said. Because their immune systems are not fully developed, "they shed the virus longer and in greater amounts than adults," he said.
There is an abundant supply of flu vaccine this season and there are many opportunities for people to get immunizations today that are either free or available for a very nominal charge, Ohikhaure said.
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