As flu season begins and after officials confirmed an unvaccinated Florida child as the first flu-related death of the season, the American Medical Association (AMA) is encouraging everyone six months and older to be vaccinated against the flu, ideally by the end of October. The following statement is attributable to AMA President Barbara L. McAneny, M.D.:
“Every eligible American should get their flu vaccine as soon as possible because we know it’s the most effective way to protect against the flu and its potentially serious complications. The flu vaccine is particularly effective in reducing flu illness, doctor’s visits, missed work and school, and at preventing flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. It’s also a proven way to significantly reduce a child’s risk of influenza-associated death.
“Recent estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that last year’s flu season was the worst in recent history with 80,000 people dying from the flu and its associated complications. It’s important that we do everything we can this year to keep history from repeating itself. Getting the flu vaccine is the best way we can protect ourselves, our loved ones and the public against the spread of flu. It also saves lives—especially vulnerable populations who aren’t eligible for vaccination such as babies younger than six months and people who are allergic to the vaccine.
“The AMA fully supports the overwhelming evidence that vaccines are among the most effective and safest interventions to both prevent individual illness and protect the health of the public. The AMA will continue its work to promote public understanding and confidence in the use of vaccines to prevent resurgence of vaccine-preventable illnesses and deaths.”