Protecting yourself from flu

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Mary Beth Durbin, MD
  • 22nd Medical Group
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 6 months and older have a flu vaccine each year, unless told otherwise by your doctor.

This is the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.

It is especially important to be vaccinated if you have asthma, diabetes, chronic lung disease, are pregnant or are over 65.

It is also very important to be vaccinated if you live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications of the flu such as pneumonia. Examples include the elderly, infants and those with serious medical problems.

It is recommended to get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available in your community. Flu seasons are unpredictable and epidemics can vary in timing, severity and length.

Vaccination helps protect you as well as those around you who are unable to be vaccinated. Most commonly, flu epidemics peak in January or February in the U.S., however flu can start as early as October and run through May. Last year's flu season was late and relatively mild compared to previous years.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu infection.

The influenza vaccine does not guarantee immunity to the strains of influenza that may be circulating each season and if you do contract the flu, it may be a milder form if you have been vaccinated.

Currently, the 22nd Medical Group has immunized over 1,761 active duty members and we have our entire flu supply for the year. In addition to immunizing our active duty population, we are now immunizing all family members, retirees, and anyone who may be empanelled to our facility.

Our goal is to have Team McConnell 100 percent immunized by Nov. 1, 2012 to ensure we have a happy and healthy holiday season.

Surveillance for influenza will be ongoing and any epidemics will be reported through your local news, health department and clinics. For more information, visit