FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Connecticut Department of Public Health
November 20, 2007 Contact: William Gerrish
Hartford – With the confirmation of cases of influenza by the State Public Health and Yale School of Medicine Laboratories, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) today advised that the influenza season has officially begun in Connecticut.
“Flu season has arrived here in Connecticut,” said Governor M. Jodi Rell. “I encourage all Connecticut residents to stay healthy this flu season by getting vaccinated for the flu and taking simple precautions like washing your hands and practicing proper coughing etiquette.”
All cases were identified as type A influenza. Two cases from Middlesex County were cultured and identified by the State Public Health Laboratory as the influenza A (H1N1) subtype. An additional influenza A isolate from a New Haven County resident was cultured by the Yale University School of Medicine virology laboratory. Additional reports are being received from Fairfield and Windham Counties. These laboratory reports have resulted in a national flu activity classification of “sporadic” for Connecticut during the weeks ending November 3 and 10, 2007.
Weekly updates that summarize the current level of influenza activity in Connecticut will be posted on the DPH web site (see: http://www.ct.gov/dph, click on “seasonal flu”)
DPH Commissioner J. Robert Galvin, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A. urged Connecticut residents to talk to their doctor about getting a flu vaccination. “The single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get vaccinated – either by the flu nasal spray or injection,” stated Dr. Galvin. “Vaccine supplies continue to arrive in Connecticut and there is still time to receive a flu vaccination to protect yourself this flu season.”
“Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death,” he added. “Flu vaccines are safe, effective, and cannot cause the flu.”
Every year in the United States, on average, 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and about 36,000 people die from the flu. Persons with influenza usually experience a rapid onset of fever, chills, headache, and muscle ache followed by a runny nose, sore throat, and cough, which is often severe and lasts for many days. Most persons with influenza recover within two to seven days.
Influenza vaccine manufacturers report they expect to produce more than 130 million doses of influenza vaccine this year. This amount is at least 49 million more doses of influenza vaccine than were distributed in 2005 and 30 million more than distributed in 2006. According to vaccine manufacturers, about 103 million doses were already distributed by the end of October. This amount is about 28 million more doses than were distributed by the end of October 2006.
Health officials noted that most health care providers and doctor’s offices are receiving the flu vaccines that were previously ordered. Since influenza vaccine distribution and administration is a mostly private sector enterprise, supplies of influenza vaccine are likely to vary from place-to-place and provider-to-provider. Many communities and providers appear to have ample supplies of influenza vaccine, and other providers are still receiving vaccine and will be over the coming weeks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is sponsoring the second annual National Influenza Immunization week from November 26,2007 to December 2, 2007.
“November is the best time to get vaccinated,” according to Dr. Galvin. “However, getting vaccinated in December or even later can still be beneficial since most influenza activity occurs in January or later in most years.”
Where do you get the vaccine?
People wishing to get vaccinated can check with their own health care provider. For those without health care providers or whose providers do not have flu vaccine, the Connecticut Chapter of the American Lung Association maintains a website listing public clinics. There is also a Flu Clinic hotline available Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm at 1-888-668-6358. The web address is http://www.alact.org. Information about flu vaccination clinics is also available through INFOLINE at 2-1-1.
Who Should Get Vaccinated?
In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can be vaccinated. However, certain people should get vaccinated each year either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high risk persons. During flu seasons when vaccine supplies are limited or delayed, the national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) makes recommendations regarding priority groups for vaccination.
People who should be vaccinated each year are:
1. People at high risk for complications from the flu, including:
- Children aged 6–59 months of age
- Pregnant women
- People 50 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, and
- People who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.
- Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu (see above)
- Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
- Health care workers.
3. Anyone who wants to decrease their risk of getting influenza.
Use of the Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
Vaccination with the nasal-spray flu vaccine is an option for healthy persons aged 2-49 years who are not pregnant, and even healthy persons who live with or care for those in a high risk group. The one exception is healthy persons who care for persons with severely weakened immune systems who require a protected environment; these healthy persons should get the inactivated vaccine.
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated
Some people should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. They include:
- People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs
- People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past
- People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine previously
- Children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for use in this age group)
- People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to be vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.
"This year’s flu vaccine should provide immunity against the types of influenza expected to be the most likely to occur this winter," Dr. Galvin noted. “It takes about 1 to 2 weeks after vaccination for antibody against influenza to develop and provide protection.”
Whether you receive a flu shot or not, there are some other steps you can take to avoid the flu this year and stay healthy:
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.
· Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
· Seek care early. See your healthcare provider immediately if you develop flu symptoms; antiviral medications can help if taken early in the illness.