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It's Not Too Late to Vaccinate for the Flu

Suggestions from Montefiore Medical Center on How to Protect Yourself

New York City, NY (December 6, 2012) – Montefiore Medical Center experts say it’s not too late to benefit from a flu vaccine despite the earliest arrival of the influenza season in decades. This year's epidemic is starting early and could be significantly more severe than last year.

“If you haven’t already been vaccinated, it’s important to get your flu vaccine now,” said Dr. Brian Currie, vice president and medical director for research at Montefiore Medical Center and assistant dean for clinical research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “We strongly encourage those who are most vulnerable – children, people over the age of 65 and pregnant women – to take special precautions.”

Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and usually include some combination of high fever, sore throat, cough, fatigue, headaches and muscle aches. Because the influenza virus is constantly mutating, scientists develop the annual vaccine against the strain they believe will be most common, though it is not guaranteed to be an exact match.

“The circulating strains coupled with the early emergence of the flu suggest this could be a particularly bad year,” Dr. Currie said. “That said, we believe people who get vaccinated will be well protected since this season’s vaccine is an excellent match for the three most common strains of the flu.”

In addition to getting vaccinated, Dr. Currie urges everyone to take common sense steps to prevent the spread of germs, including:

  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze – even consider coughing into your elbow to reduce the spread of germs from your hand.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • When sick, stay home and limit contact with other people.

“In what could be one of the longest seasons, everyone can play an important role in preventing the devastating impact of the flu,” Dr. Currie said.