"In some areas, we are now seeing as much flu in early September as we would usually see at the peak of flu season later in the year," he said.
Seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 50 and older; for children between 6 months and 18 years of age; for people with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, heart or lung disease; for people with compromised immune systems, such as those on chemotherapy, and for pregnant women, Frieden said.
In addition to flu shots, people 65 and older and anyone over 2 years of age with a chronic illness should also get vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, which can lead to severe illness, including bacterial pneumonia, bloodstream infection and meningitis. "It reduces the risk of serious illness from a common bacteria," Frieden said.
The target groups for the swine flu vaccine include pregnant women; parents and caregivers of children less than 6 months old; people between 6 months of age and 24 years; health-care workers, and people 25 to 64 years old who have underlying health problems, such as asthma and diabetes.
Frieden said health-care workers should be vaccinated for both seasonal flu and swine flu to protect themselves and the people they care for. Typically, only about 40 percent of health-care workers get vaccinated, he noted.
Some states, such as New York and California, have made it mandatory for health-care workers to get seasonal flu shots, Dr. Gregory A. Poland said during the press conference. He's director of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group and chairman of the American College of Physicians' Adult Immunization Advisory Board.
"This, I believe, should be a priority for all health-care institutions who take patient safety seriously," Poland said. "Ask your hospital or your clinic, your doctor or your
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