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Missouri Ramps Up for "Regular" Flu Season

September 22, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The flu shot available this year will be the same as last year.

The seasonal flu strains that were prevalent in February and March, when health officials were deciding on what protections to include in this season's vaccine, are exactly the same three strains as in last year's vaccine.

However, Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, chief of the infectious-disease section at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, cautions not to skip getting the shot this year. She says the number of shots recommended depend on the patient's age and flu-shot history.

"For children who haven't had H1N1 ever, or they've never had seasonal vaccine, those children will require two. Everybody else should get one dose of vaccine. So, it changes nothing for the vast majority of us."

The regular, seasonal flu shots are in plentiful supply now, Jackson says, and people opting for shots have time for appointments before flu season arrives in January. Vaccines are not for everyone, she says, including infants under the age of 6 months and most people with egg allergies.

Get a shot not just for yourself, Jackson says, but also to protect your loved ones who are not eligible for a flu shot.

"If you have a high-risk patient - say someone in your family has cancer, heart disease or kidney disease, or there's an infant in the family less than 6 months of age - what you need to do is protect everyone in the household. You will protect that high-risk patient as best we can."

Jackson says severe complications from the flu are most common in children younger than age 2.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO