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CDC Urges Americans: Get Your Flu Shot
Date:9/21/2011

p>"It looks like we are going to have a vaccine that's very well matched to the circulating strains," Frieden said.

The CDC also recommends a three-step approach to protect yourself and family from the flu. First, get a flu shot. Second, use everyday preventive measures, such as hand washing and covering your mouth when you cough.

Finally, if you do get the flu, use antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) to help reduce the risk of complications.

Speaking at the press conference, Dr. Richard H. Beigi, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, stressed the importance of pregnant women getting a flu shot.

"The influenza vaccine during pregnancy is safe for both mothers and for babies," said Beigi, who's also a spokesman for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "Pregnant women suffer more serious morbidity and occasional mortality from influenza. This was validated during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic and last year as well," he added.

Pregnant women who get the flu are also more likely to deliver early and have underweight babies, Beigi said.

"Giving mom an influenza vaccination during pregnancy not only protects the mother, but also protects the newborn infant for the first six months of life. This is important because newborns less than six months of age are not eligible to receive the influenza vaccine, but are at higher risk for morbidity and occasional mortality," he said.

Frieden also recommended that seniors get a pneumococcal vaccination to protect them from flu complications such as pneumonia and meningitis. The vaccine is also recommended for young adults who have lung, heart or liver problems or diabetes or asthma, he said.

It's impossible to predict the severity of an approaching flu season, which usually picks up steam in December and peaks in February before easing in March and April. The flu caus
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