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P reven tion Getting Vaccinated Is Best Way to Avoid the Flu 3 ft 2 ft 1 ft 3 ft 2 ft 1 ft 1 ft 2 ft 3 ft The U.S. Centers for Disease Control now recommends the vaccination for nearly everyone 6 months or older at the beginning of each flu season. The annual flu vaccine is particularly important for those who are most likely to develop serious and potentially fatal complications from the flu, including anyone 65 or older; people with medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease; pregnant women; and those who live with or provide care for these individuals. For people outside the high-risk groups, the flu vaccine is recommended for two reasons, notes Zachary Rubin, MD, UCLA infectious disease specialist. “You’re not only protecting yourself, but you’re also making it less likely that you will transmit influenza to those high-risk people in the community,” he explains. Dr. Rubin says many people fail to protect themselves by getting the shot. “Some people just forget. Others have misconceptions about the vaccine; they think they’re going to get influenza from it, which is incorrect. The flu shot does not contain a live virus. Because of the time of year that it’s given, some people will catch a cold shortly after getting the shot and assume they got it from the vaccine, even though it’s unrelated,” Dr. Rubin says. In addition to the shot, the vaccine can be delivered as a nasal spray. Because the nasal spray contains a live, though weakened, influenza virus, it can produce minor flu symptoms and is not recommended for individuals with asthma. Research shows that for children, the nasal spray is more effective than the shot. Flu season can start as early as October and run as late as May, with the peak months typically in December, January and February. Dr. Rubin recommends getting the vaccine prior to the start of the season, keeping in mind that it takes about two weeks after the vaccination for the antibodies to develop. No, the Flu Vaccine CANNOT Give You the Flu Despite some mistrust of vaccines by people, there is no evidence to suggest that vaccines cause autism or other developmental disorders in children. Likewise, the flu vaccine does not cause the flu. However, mild reactions such as soreness, headaches and fever are common side effects of the flu vaccine. Where to Get Vaccinated UCLA Health’s Community Flu Shot Clinics will provide vaccinations for adults and children 5 years or older. The shots are $25 or billed to insurance, if covered. Vaccinations are free to eligible patients who enroll in UCLA Health 50-Plus by October 12. For more information, call (800) 516-5323 or visit 1 ft 2 ft 3 ft Infection Radius Viral particles are spread every time an infected person sneezes. The flu virus can travel about three feet. hospital 226 , 000 hospitalizations due to influenza in the U.S. each year When to Get Vaccinated Get vaccinated as soon as the flu vaccine becomes available. Flu seasons are unpredictable and can begin as early as October. Early immunization is the most effective — it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection. But it’s not too late to get the vaccine in December, January or beyond. Porter Ranch Brentwood Friday, October 18 / 1–4 pm UCLA Porter Ranch Medical Group Primary Care & Specialties 19950 Rinaldi Street, Suite 300 (818) 271-2400 Saturday, October 19 / 1–4 pm Saturday, October 26 / 1–4 pm UCLA Brentwood Medical Group Internal Medicine-Pediatrics 11980 San Vicente Blvd., Suite 102 (310) 208-7777 Santa Monica Saturday, October 19 / 10 am–1 pm Tuesday, October 22 / 5–8 pm  UCLA Santa Monica Bay Physicians 2424 Wilshire Blvd. (310) 828-4530 Marina del Rey  Sunday, October 20 / 10 am–4 pm Wednesday, October 23 / 5–8 pm UCLA Playa Marina Urgent Care 4560 Admiralty Way, Suite 100 (310) 827-3700 Vital Signs Fall 2013 Vol. 60 3