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CDC RECOMMENDS EARLY FLU SHOTS THIS YEAR

Federal health officials are declaring 1992 the year of the early flu shot.

Because last year's influenza season started early, the national Centers for Disease Control is recommending that those particularly at risk for flu get their shots as soon as possible.The flu season usually runs from December through March. But last year it started in early November.

The vaccine takes about two weeks to take effect.

Vaccine makers are producing about 40 million doses this year, about 10 percent more than usual, to avoid shortages that hurt the vaccination program last season.

In addition, the CDC will keep in close touch with local health departments to help solve supply problems early.

"We will be acting as sort of an information clearinghouse," Raymond Strikas of the CDC's immunization branch said Tuesday.

People at high risk for flu complications are those over age 65 and people with heart or lung diseases, diabetes, kidney disorders, chronic anemia and immune system disorders.

While the vaccine will not always prevent a person from getting the flu, it helps reduce serious complications, such as viral pneumonia, which can be fatal.