December 5, 2011 Contact: William Gerrish
Hartford – This holiday season, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) encourages residents to share good tidings and not the flu by getting vaccinated. The announcement comes as the state recognizes National Influenza Vaccination Week, which runs from December 4-11.
“Now that we’re in December, some people may think that it’s too late to get vaccinated for the flu,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “In Connecticut, we typically see the flu season peak between late December and early March, making now a great time to get vaccinated.”
This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage all people over the age of six months old to be vaccinated. Vaccines are encouraged for everyone, but especially for high-risk groups, including children from 6 months to 18 years of age, women who will be pregnant during the flu season, people at least 50 years old, anyone with certain chronic medical conditions and people who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. Health care and emergency medical services personnel should also be vaccinated against the flu to protect themselves and their patients from infection.
State health officials say that Connecticut is currently experiencing low influenza activity in the state. “Even though we’re still seeing low levels of flu activity in Connecticut, we expect to see an increase in activity as the season progresses. By getting vaccinated now, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu when the flu season is at its peak,” stated Dr. Mullen.
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 between 3,300 and 48,000 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.
Children under the age of nine years old may need to receive two doses of the flu vaccine to be fully protected from the flu. Parents whose children have received their first dose of the vaccine should contact their health care provider or clinic where they were vaccinated to see if a second dose is required.
When children who live in impoverished and crowded communities get influenza, they are at increased risk for getting seriously ill and being hospitalized with the flu. It is very important that parents of children in these areas have their children vaccinated for the flu to prevent serious, or even life-threatening, illness. Vaccines are available at no charge for children who are uninsured through the Vaccines for Children Program. For information on the Vaccines for Children program, please call the Department of Public Health Immunizations Program at (860) 509-7929.
In addition to receiving the flu vaccine, there are 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.
To find a flu vaccine clinic and to learn more about seasonal influenza, visit the CT Flu Watch web site at www.ct.gov/ctfluwatch and click on “Find a Clinic” in the left hand column. You can also call the Department of Public Health Immunizations Program at (860) 509-7929 for information on flu clinics in your area or check with your health care provider to see if they have the vaccine available.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state. To contact the department, please visit its website at www.ct.gov/dph or call (860) 509-7270.