Click here to take a flu vaccination pledge. Photo by CDC

Dec. 7-13 is National Influenza Vaccination Week, an observance organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to highlight the importance of annual flu immunizations.

It’s a particularly important reminder this year. On Wednesday CDC announced that the strain of this year’s most common virus, H3N2, has mutated, possibly reducing the vaccine’s ability to protect against those viruses. Flu seasons with predominantly H3N2 viruses often bring more severe flu cases, including more hospitalizations and deaths.

“It’s too early to say for sure that this will be a severe flu season, but Americans should be prepared,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a news statement. “We can save lives with a three-pronged effort to fight the flu: vaccination, prompt treatment for people at high risk of complications and preventive health measures, such as staying home when you’re sick, to reduce flu spread.”

Getting your flu shots remains vital; it provides protection against mutated, or “drifted,” viruses in past seasons and offers protection against other flu viruses that could become common later in the flu season. Flu activity commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February.

Everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get a flu shot, according to CDC, while healthy children ages 2-8 should get a nasal spray vaccine.

Take and share CDC’s flu pledge to protect yourself and those around you by getting vaccinated. And visit APHA’s Get Ready blog for a variety of resources, including vaccination fact sheets for kids, teens and adults.