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Date: December 16, 2022
DOVER, DE (Dec. 16, 2022) - The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) announced today the state's first suspected flu-related death for the 2022-2023 influenza season. The patient was a Kent County resident between the ages of 55 - 64 and is not reported as being vaccinated against the flu. Getting the annual flu vaccine is important for all people ages 6 months and older to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death that can result from the flu virus. Hospitalization and death from the flu can occur in previously healthy individuals, though persons with underlying health conditions are at significantly increased risk for serious outcomes.
"The first flu-related death of the season reminds us just how dangerous the flu can be," said DPH Interim Director Dr. Rick Hong. "Influenza started early this season and has been very active. Getting your flu vaccine as soon as possible is the best way to reduce the chance for flu illness to turn into life-threatening flu complications. Because hospitals, walk-ins, urgent cares, and physicians' offices are already taxed with sick patient visits, we must do everything we can to prevent adding more stress to the system. Getting your flu vaccine is a very simple way to help yourself and the overall health care system."
According to the recently launched Influenza Dashboard on My Healthy Community (https://myhealthycommunity.dhss.delaware.gov/portals/flu/locations/state/seasons/2022-2023/overview), a total of 5,609 total flu cases have been reported to date during the 2022-2023 flu season. The flu season began Oct 2, 2022. For the week of Dec. 4 to Dec 10, the most recent week for which case data is available, there were 1,125 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu reported. Although there have been 276,911 flu vaccine doses administered from Oct 2 to Dec 3, it only accounts for 28.6% of the population.
Seniors ages 65 and older have the highest vaccination rate of any age group in Delaware with 63.3% vaccinated. This population makes up 41.6% of the state's total vaccinated population. Every other age group has a vaccination rate of under 30% with persons in the 18-34 age demographic having the lowest at 11.1%. The influenza data dashboard is updated weekly on Thursdays at the state and county level, and monthly for other geographies. While flu cases continue to be high, flu hospitalizations remain relatively low. As of Dec. 3, the most recently available data for flu hospitalizations, there have been 47 hospitalizations for the season to date.
DPH reminds the public it is not too late to get vaccinated against the flu. Visit flu.delaware.gov and click on the Find A Flu Shot Near You button on the webpage for a list of locations where you can receive your flu shot. As a reminder, it is safe to get your flu shot and COVID-19 booster the same day if you are eligible for both.
Flu, RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus) and COVID-19 are respiratory illnesses that can have varying degrees of symptoms, from no symptoms to severe symptoms. Because these viruses share many of the same signs and symptoms, it is often difficult to tell the difference between them. Common symptoms between these viruses include fever, cough, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, and several others. Testing is needed to confirm if you are sick with these viruses. If you or a family member need to get tested for the flu, DPH recommends contacting your primary health care provider.
If you get sick with flu, influenza antiviral drugs may be a treatment option your primary health care provider recommends. Antiviral drugs work best when started early, such as one to two days after your flu symptoms begin. When treatment is started within 1-2 days after flu symptoms begin, influenza antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by 1 or 2 days.
Delawareans are encouraged to take the following preventive actions to reduce the spread of flu and other respiratory viruses:
For additional information call 1-800-282-8672 or visit flu.delaware.gov. The best source of information about the flu vaccine is your primary care provider or a health care professional.
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.