Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Flu.gov Vaccine Locator Available Next Week

Three HHS leaders, including Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, gave a short briefing Tuesday in which they urged all Americans to get this year's flu vaccine.

A nasal spray and shots to provide influenza immunization for the upcoming flu season are now available, and Department of Health and Human Services leaders Tuesday urged the public and health care workers to be vaccinated before flu incidence begins to increase. There are not many cases so far, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease.

One shot is sufficient this year, while in 2009 both a seasonal flu shot and an H1N1 shot were recommended. The nasal spray is an option for those between two and 49 years of age, except for pregnant women, who should get the shot. For those older than 65, a high-dose vaccine is an available option, Schuchat said. She said studies are under way to determine whether the high-dose vaccine is superior.

During the "2010 Flu Season: A Look Ahead" briefing, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Google is partnering with the department to provide an online tool that will be available on www.flu.gov next week. Anyone can type in a ZIP code to locate vaccine sources in his or her area, Sebelius said.

"Getting a shot when it's available, which is right now, is a great way to protect yourself and your family," Sebelius added.

Dr. Howard Koh, MD, MPH, assistant secretary for Health, discussed the importance of vaccination for health care workers. "It's very, very important for health care workers and health care employees to be vaccinated," said Koh, who added that the current vaccination rate for this workforce, approximately 40 percent, is too low.

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