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Date: October 9, 2023
DPH announces the start of flu season and encourages vaccination in the face of potentially active flu season
DOVER, DE (Oct. 9, 2023) - As the temperatures start to drop and the leaves begin to change, the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) marks the start of 2023-2024 influenza (flu) season. Infection with flu can cause mild to severe illness, and sometimes even death. As a possible signal of what we might expect, the U.S. often looks at what Australia and New Zealand experienced in the Southern Hemisphere during their flu season in our summer. This year, the countries had a particularly active flu season. As the spread of RSV and COVID-19 variants continue, and the possibility that an active flu season is ahead, the DPH recommends Delaware residents get their flu vaccines as soon as possible.
Each year, everyone who is 6 months of age or older should receive a flu vaccination. It is strongly recommended that children under the age of five, older adults, pregnant women and individuals with chronic underlying medical conditions get vaccinated against the flu as soon as possible. Additionally, DPH emphasizes vaccination for those who live or work with infants under six months of age, as well as for those who live or work in congregant settings such as long-term care and correctional facilities.
Updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were recently rolled out in response to the emergence of new variants of the COVID-19 virus. DPH wants to let the public know that both the flu and COVID-19 booster shots can be safely administered together. The RSV vaccine is available for people 60 years of age and older, and it can be combined with flu and COVID-19 vaccines. However, the CDC recommends discussing RSV vaccination with your primary care provider to determine if it is appropriate for you and your medical situation. As with COVID-19, DPH will make flu data available on its My Healthy Community data portal on October 10.
"COVID-19, influenza and RSV are all hitting at the same time this year, making it challenging for everyone," said DPH Medical Director Dr. Robert Rosenbaum. "Don't wait until you're infected with one of these diseases; get vaccinated as soon as possible. The flu is contagious and can cause serious illness and even death, but a flu vaccine can reduce your chance of ending up in the hospital. Getting the flu shot every year is the best line of defense to prevent severe illness from the flu."
As antibodies against influenza virus infection can take up to two weeks to develop in the body after vaccination, it is vital to get vaccinated as soon as possible. People who get the flu vaccine now will also be protected throughout the entire flu season. Find information about the flu and where to get it at flu.delaware.gov.
Pharmacies (including those within grocery stores) as well as participating medical provider offices, Federally Qualified Health Centers (for their patients) and Division of Public Health clinics are all offering flu vaccines. DPH provides flu vaccines at locations where DPH mobile units also provide health care.
Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue. COVID-19 and the flu share some signs and symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, a runny or stuffy nose, headaches, and body aches, chills and fatigue. You can determine which illness you have with the help of testing. Flu vaccination is strongly recommended for children, older adults, and those with chronic underlying medical conditions. When sick with the flu, people should remain at home and not return to work, school, or other gatherings until they are fever-free - without fever-reducing medications - for at least 24 hours.
In addition, people with flu symptoms should avoid close contact with others in their household and stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other clear liquids. While over-the-counter medications can relieve symptoms, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications to hasten recovery and prevent serious complications if you suspect you have influenza. In cases of acute illness, pregnancy, or chronic medical conditions, it is particularly important to contact your primary care provider.
Remember the four key ways to keep respiratory illnesses in check this season:
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.
The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), a division of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, is a nationally accredited public health agency recognized by the Public Health Accreditation Board for its outstanding dedication to driving change through innovation
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.
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.