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The Centers for Disease Control established National Influenza Vaccination Week in 2005 to remind people that, even though the holiday season has begun, it's not too late to get a flu shot. This year, NIVW is scheduled for Dec. 3-9. A second goal of the observance week is to communicate to those who are at the highest risk of complications if they acquire the flu.

For people at high risk, getting the flu can be far more serious than for other people. Flu is more likely to lead to hospitalization or death for people in the high-risk groups, and their first line of defense is vaccination.

According to the CDC, people in the highest risk categories include:

• Children younger than 5, but especially those younger than 2;

• Adults older than 65;

• Pregnant women, and up to two weeks postpartum;

• Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities;

• People with chronic medical conditions, including but not limited to asthma, diabetes and heart and lung diseases;

• Those with weakened immune systems because of medications or medical conditions;

• Obese patients -- those with a BMI more than 40;

• Alaskan and American Indian natives also appear to be at higher risk.

While the focus on immunization is not necessarily new, there are some new developments and recommendations for the 2017 flu season. First, the CDC reports that available vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses. Second, the recommendation to not use the nasal spray vaccine has been renewed this year -- only injectable flu shots should be used for all populations.

Preventing the flu in as many people as possible is our first priority. But our medical staff is prepared to react quickly to those high-risk patients who contract the virus. Work with your provider to determine the best vaccine type for you, and don't delay in getting medical care if you suspect you have contracted the flu.

Northwest Health Urgent Care in Siloam Springs can provide flu shots for you and your family if needed. If you do suspect you or someone in your family has the flu, Northwest Health Urgent Care is here for you -- even in the evenings and on the weekends. No appointment is needed and the clinic is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, at 3721 E. U.S. 412 Hwy., Suite B, Siloam Springs (less than one mile west of intersection U.S. Highway 412 and Arkansas Highway 59). You can schedule your visit online at

Editorial on 12/06/2017

Print Headline: Influenza Vaccination Week starts Dec. 3

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