PUBLISHED: 1:15 PM on Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Flu season prompts timely vaccination

Photo by Amanda Gragert
  Monica Reichardt, a public health nurse, prepares a flu shot for Alaska First Lady Nancy Murkowski.
Gov. Frank H. Murkowski and First Lady Nancy Murkowski received influenza vaccinations to raise awareness of influenza immunization season Wednesday, Oct. 25, in Juneau. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services encourages Alaskans aged 6 months and older to receive influenza vaccinations.

"Influenza vaccination is the single most effective means for preventing infection and associated complications," Gov. Murkowski said. "People can benefit from vaccination throughout the influenza season, even after influenza has appeared in a community."

Although the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages anyone who wants to be protected against influenza to get vaccinated, people at highest risk of developing complications are particularly advised to do so. These include children between 6 months and 5 years of age; people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and compromised immune systems; people 50 years of age and older; and pregnant women. Health-care workers and people who live with or care for persons in these groups also should be vaccinated to decrease the chance of transmitting influenza.

Influenza, also known as the flu, is caused by infection from the influenza virus. It is a contagious, vaccine-preventable disease that attacks the respiratory system. Approximately 36,000 people die annually from influenza in the United States, and more than 200,000 are hospitalized. Generally, an individual develops protection about two weeks after being vaccinated.

For additional immunization information, call your healthcare provider, local public health center, local pharmacy, or the Alaska Immunization hotline at (888) 430-4321.