State health officials say Hoosiers shouldn’t get complacent over a mild start to the flu season and should ensure that everyone in their families who is eligible is vaccinated against the flu and its potentially deadly complications.
“Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu and sometimes serious complications,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “This year’s vaccine is a good match for the circulating viruses, and I encourage all Hoosiers to make sure they’re protected.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Indiana State Department of Health recommend everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine annually. To find a location that provides flu shots in your community, check with your local health department or visit the flu shot locator at www.StateHealth.in.gov.
It can take up to two weeks for the flu vaccine to be fully effective, so getting vaccinated now is the best way to protect families over the holidays.
Influenza, or the “flu,” is a viral infection of the respiratory tract. Influenza is spread by respiratory droplets from infected people or contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. Infection can occur when influenza viruses contact the eyes, mouth or nose, and possibly through inhaling droplets from a sneeze or cough. Sometimes people may become infected by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose.
Symptoms of the flu include:
- Fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or greater
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
Although anyone can get the flu, some people are at higher risk of complications that could lead to hospitalization and even death. High-risk individuals include pregnant women, young children (especially those younger than 6 months who cannot be vaccinated), those with chronic illnesses and/or compromised immune systems and adults age 65 and older. Healthcare personnel are also encouraged to get a flu vaccine to protect themselves and their patients during the flu season.
The CDC estimates that 5 percent to 20 percent of people nationwide contract the flu each year, and more than 200,000 people nationwide are hospitalized for illnesses related to influenza infection.
Additional steps that people can take to prevent the spread of influenza and other respiratory diseases include:
- Clean – properly wash your hands frequently.
- Cover – cover your cough and sneeze.
- Contain – contain your germs by staying home (or keep children home) if sick.
For more information about the Indiana State Department of Health, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov. Follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at@StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.