Monday, November 08, 2010


Now is the time to get a flu shot

The snow came early this year — and so did flu vaccine.

But the availability of flu shots has not necessarily translated into overwhelming numbers of people getting vaccinated.

Local health officials, from doctors to health districts, are reporting that flu shots are not exactly flying off the shelves.

The reasons for this are not clear. Possibilities include the availability of vaccines at national retail outlets; the lack of an H1N1-like scare; no confirmed flu cases in Connecticut yet and a general false sense of security.

But make no mistake about it. The flu season will hit, the only questions being when and how hard.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has even expanded its recommendations on who should receive an annual flu shot. All people six months and older should now get vaccinated, which is a shift toward broader vaccination to protect as many people as possible.

High risk populations include:

• Children under five years old, and especially those under two.

• Adults over 65 years old.

• People with chronic medical conditions.

• Pregnant women.

• Severely obese people.

There is also a new Connecticut law that requires children between the ages 6-59 months to be immunized if they are planning to attend a private licensed daycare facility or nursery school after Jan. 1, 2011. This law was enacted because flu spreads rapidly in these settings, and children are particularly vulnerable.

The bottom line is now is the time to get vaccinated. They are widely available at Backus health centers in Montville, Colchester and Plainfield -- and in physician offices throughout the region.

With the holidays approaching and cold weather forcing people indoors, it is only a matter of time before flu hits and begins to spread.

The best defense against the flu is to ensure that you and your loved ones are vaccinated.

Bonnie Thompson, an advanced practice nurse, is Administrative Director of Organizational Excellence at The William W. Backus Hospital. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Thompson or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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