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Molly Magarik, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
DPH Media Contact:
Date: September 29, 2022
DOVER, DE (Sept. 29, 2022) - October 2 marks the official start of the 2022-2023 influenza (flu) season. The flu vaccine plays a pivotal role in helping to avoid significant flu-related illnesses, including hospitalization and death. The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) believes it is vital for Delawareans to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting the flu vaccine as soon as possible, particularly given the ongoing battle against COVID-19 and a potentially active flu season ahead. The U.S. often looks to the experience of Australia and New Zealand in the Southern Hemisphere during their flu season in the summer as a possible signal of what we might face. This year, the countries had a particularly active flu season.
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. Children younger than 5, older adults, pregnant women, and those with chronic underlying medical conditions are most at risk for complications from the flu and are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated now. DPH also urges vaccination for those who live or work with infants under 6 months of age and those who live or work in congregant settings such as long-term care and correctional facilities. DPH wants the public to know that the flu vaccine can be administered at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine, which includes the new bivalent booster.
DPH is expanding its data collection and presentation capabilities this year. For the first time, in a pilot of approximately 20 Influenza-Like Illness Network (ILI Net) Providers statewide, DPH will collect and report the results of rapid flu test results. In the past, DPH has reported only laboratory-confirmed cases, thereby limiting the picture of the actual incidence of flu in Delaware for a given flu season. Since DPH is increasing the amount of data it collects and shares, comparing the data with that of past years should be done cautiously. In addition to collecting rapid flu test results, DPH will begin collecting information on other respiratory viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) to get an expanded view of the respiratory viruses circulating during the influenza season. Later in October, DPH will make flu data available on the My Healthy Community data portal, much like it does for COVID-19. Data will still be updated weekly as in the past, but information related to flu vaccination rates in the state will be provided for the first time.
"The flu remains a serious health threat and we are already seeing influenza starting to circulate in advance of the official start of the season next week," said Interim DPH Director Dr. Rick Hong. "The flu is contagious and has the ability to cause serious illness and even death. The vaccine is your best shot at reducing your risk of ending up in the hospital or worse. Despite recent decreases in COVID-19 cases, hospitals are still under strain, and Delawareans should continue to take steps to prevent emergency hospital visits, including getting the annual flu vaccine."
Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies against influenza virus infection to develop in the body, it is crucial to get vaccinated as early as possible to give your body time to build immunity. Getting the flu vaccine now will also protect people during the entire flu season. Find information about the flu and where to get it at flu.delaware.gov.
Flu vaccines are available at pharmacies (including in grocery stores), participating medical provider offices, Federally Qualified Health Centers (for their patients), and Division of Public Health clinics. While DPH no longer holds mass community flu clinics, it is offering flu vaccines at community-based locations where the DPH mobile units also provide additional health services.
Flu symptoms come on suddenly and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills, and fatigue. Some signs and symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, including fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, and body aches, chills, and fatigue. Testing can effectively help you determine which illness you have. Children, older adults, and those with chronic underlying medical conditions are most at risk for complications from the flu and are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated now.
Those sick with the flu should stay home from work, school, and other gatherings and not return until they have been free of fever - with a temperature less than 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C), without the use of fever-reducing medications - for at least 24 hours.
In addition, people with flu symptoms should avoid close contact with people in the household and stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other clear liquids. Over-the-counter medicines can provide symptom relief, but if you suspect you have influenza, call your doctor as they may decide to provide antiviral medications to help hasten recovery and prevent serious complications. Contacting your primary care provider is particularly important for those who feel very sick, are pregnant, or have chronic medical conditions.
DPH will again share flu-related messaging through radio, print, and social media messaging and distribute a toolkit to schools, community-based organizations, and medical providers to help encourage flu vaccination through their networks.
For more information about the flu and where to get vaccinated, visit flu.delaware.gov or call 1-800-282-8672.
Anyone who is deaf, hard of hearing, Deaf-Blind or speech disabled can contact DPH by dialing 711 first using specialized devices (i.e. TTY, TeleBraille, voice devices). The 711 service is free and to learn more about how it works, please visit delawarerelay.com.
DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.