For Immediate Release
Sept. 15, 2011
Contact: Pam Udall
phone: (512) 370-1382
cell: (512) 413-6807
phone: (512) 370-1381
cell: (512) 656-7320
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As flu season approaches, Texas Medical Association (TMA) physicians want to remind Texans to get vaccinated against this potentially serious, even fatal illness. For patients who are needle-phobic, there are new ways to get vaccinated.
“The flu vaccine is a safe and effective way of protecting yourself and those around you,” says Jason Terk, MD, a pediatrician and chair of TMA’s Council on Science and Public Health.
In 2009, the H1N1 influenza virus caused a global pandemic leading to 18,138 deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. This season’s flu vaccine protects against this strain plus two other flu strains: Influenza B virus and an influenza H3N2-like virus.
In addition to the traditional flu shot, two different options are available now:
• The new intradermal vaccine uses a 90-percent smaller needle than the regular flu shot for injection into the skin instead of the muscle. It is appropriate for people ages 18 to 64.
• FluMist® is a nasal spray that carries a weakened version of the flu virus. It is available for healthy people who are not pregnant, ages 2 to 49.
TMA urges all Texans to talk with their doctor to determine which vaccination method is best for them.
“Regardless of which option they choose, everyone ages 6 months and older should get vaccinated against the flu,” says Dr. Terk. Vaccination is even more important for older people, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease because all of these groups are at greater risk for serious complications if they get sick from the flu.
An extra benefit for pregnant women who get vaccinated is that the vaccine protects not only the mother but also her unborn baby — even after the baby is born, up to 6 months of age.
Seniors, many of whom have weakened immune systems, can benefit this year from the new high-dose vaccine. This vaccine has four times more antigen than the regular flu vaccine. Antigen helps the body build up defenses against the flu. The high-dose vaccine is available to those 65 and older for an extra immune-system boost.
A single flu shot provides protection for the entire flu season, which often starts in early October and lasts until late May. Dr. Terk says it takes two weeks for the body to develop resistance to the flu after vaccination. “Get the shot before the flu virus starts spreading, so you can build up immunity in case you are exposed,” he advises.
TMA actively works to improve immunization rates in Texas through its Be Wise — ImmunizeSM program. Be Wise works with local communities to give free and low-cost shots to Texas children and adolescents, and educate people about the importance of vaccination. To date more than 199,000 shots have been given to young Texans.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 45,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 120 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.
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Be Wise —Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.