Immunizations - Influenza (Flu) Information
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each fall.
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 flu.
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccination each fall.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The 2012-2013 flu vaccine will protect against 2009 H1N1, and two other influenza viruses (an H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus). The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on international surveillance and scientists' estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year. About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against influenza virus infection develop in the body.
WHO SHOULD GET VACCINATED
In 2010 CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for "universal" flu vaccination in the U.S. to expand protection against the flu to more people. This means everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year starting with the 2010-2011 influenza season.
While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important that the following groups get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People 50 years of age and older
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including: Health care workers, household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu, household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
HELP PREVENT THE SPREAD OF INFLUENZA
DPH recommends residents take the following steps to prevent viral illnesses and relieve symptoms should they occur:
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands frequently and carefully with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing. Be sure to clean under fingernails.
- Supervise children when washing hands to assure that they properly use soap and water.
- Stay home if you are sick, to avoid spreading illness to others.
- Consult your physician if you are ill and ask about additional interventions such as anti-viral medications.
See our Educational Resources for Prevention Influenza page for posters and other resources.
Watch the video The Faces of Influenza. This is a video clip of a recent commercial about who needs influenza shots.
WHAT RESIDENTS CAN DO
If you are in the high-risk group:
- Call your private physician to schedule an appointment.
- DPH is sponsoring high-risk vaccination clinics.
- Veterans must be enrolled with the Veterans Administration to receive the vaccine through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
- If you become sick with flu-like symptoms, call your doctor immediately. Your doctor can prescribe medicines that reduce the severity of flu if he or she knows within two days of the onset of flu symptoms.
- Ask your doctor about being vaccinated against pneumonia (pneumococcal vaccine), one of flu’s most common and potentially severe complications.
FOR MORE FLU INFORMATION:
For additional information call the Delaware Immunization Program office, visit www.cdc.gov/flu or www.flu.gov, or call the CDC public response telephone hotline at 1-888-246-2675 (English), 1-888-246-2857 (Español) or 1-866-874-2646 (TTY).
THE BEST SOURCE OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE FLU VACCINATION IS YOUR PHYSICIAN. WE HAVE PROVIDED ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED RESOURCES BELOW:
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