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Timing right for flu prevention

It's that time of the year again.

We are hearing reports about viruses going around affecting the local population in varying degrees and forms.

This week is being observed as National Influenza Vaccination Week and the timing couldn't be more appropriate. North Dakota Department of Health officials are reminding everyone of the importance of receiving flu shots.

According to a state health official, the flu vaccine is updated each season to protect against the three flu viruses that research indicates will cause the most illness. Because flu viruses are always changing, last season's flu vaccine, including the H1N1 vaccine, may not protect against newer viruses. Getting vaccinated each year is the only way to protect yourself and your family each flu season.

Nine cases have been reported to the state health department to this point.

Since the flu season typically doesn't peak in North Dakota until after the New Year, there is still sufficient time for people to be vaccinated and protected.

Also, there is no need to worry this year about lack of supply, officials say there is more than enough vaccine to go around.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone be vaccinated against the flu, especially: all children ages 6 months through 18 years; all adults age 50 and over; residents of long-term care facilities; pregnant women; and American Indians.

The list also includes people of any age who have long-term health problems.

People who could spread the disease to those at high risk - such as healthcare workers, out-of-home caregivers and household contacts - should also be vaccinated.

For more information about vaccine availability, people should contact their local public health unit, healthcare provider or pharmacist. For more information about influenza in general, visit