State health officials report influenza, or flu, activity is currently minimal in both the state and country. Hoosiers are encouraged to take this time to get a flu vaccine.
“It’s heartbreaking every year to learn that a Hoosier has died from the flu,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “Unfortunately, the flu can have serious and even deadly consequences, which is why it’s so important for people to get vaccinated.”
State health officials say everyone age 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. People can help prevent the spread of flu by washing their hands frequently and thoroughly, avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth with their hands and staying home when sick.
Influenza is a viral infection of the respiratory tract. It is spread by respiratory droplets released when infected people cough or sneeze nearby or when people touch surfaces or objects contaminated with those infectious respiratory droplets. People can also become infected by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose.
Flu symptoms 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 flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, hospitalization and death. High-risk individuals include pregnant women, young children (especially those too young to get vaccinated), people with chronic illnesses, people who are immune-compromised and the elderly.
“It’s especially important for anyone with a baby in the house to be vaccinated,” Dr. Adams said. “Babies under 6 months of age can’t be vaccinated, and that means they are especially susceptible to catching influenza from other unvaccinated family members.”
Healthcare workers also are urged to get a flu vaccine to reduce their risk of transmitting illness to their patients.
Health officials say Hoosiers should practice the “Three Cs” to help prevent the spread of flu and other infectious diseases:
- Clean: Properly wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water.
- Cover: Cover your cough and sneeze into your arm or a disposable tissue.
- Contain: Stay home from school or work when you are sick to keep your germs from spreading.
Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.
Hoosiers who do not have health care coverage or access to a doctor are encouraged to check availability for the new Healthy Indiana Plan—HIP 2.0—by visiting www.HIP.IN.gov or calling 1-877-GET-HIP-9.