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Officials recommend universal flu vaccinations

The federal government is offering fathers an important piece of parenting advice to keep their kids and themselves healthy this flu season: get vaccinated.

“The message is simple now,” said David Weber, M.D. “If you’re more than six months of age, get the vaccine.”

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel said that last year’s H1N1 flu outbreak, which affected many young, healthy people not traditionally considered to be at high risk for complications from flu, affected the decision to recommend universal vaccination.

Officials say this year’s vaccine protects against H1N1 and two other strains of seasonal flu.

“In an average year, there are more than 200,000 hospitalizations and more than 35,000 deaths from flu,” said Dr Weber. “Many of those would be preventable by simply getting the flu shot. Flu shots are far and away the best way for preventing flu.”

The best time to get the vaccination is now, according to officials. Although influenza outbreaks peak in January or later, CDC officials say getting vaccinated now will protect individuals throughout the season.

Fathers should know that the influenza shot is an inactivated or killed virus. Reactions or side effects are usually mild, and may include soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given, fever and aches. They usually last for one or two days.