Vermonters Encouraged To Get Vaccinated Against Seasonal Flu
The Vermont Department of Health is advising people to get their flu shot. Vaccine is expected to be widely available this year at public clinics and with health care providers.
"Flu vaccine can be given throughout the winter, but it's easier to find clinics in the fall, so people should get a flu shot now," said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis, MD. "Each year we urge Vermonters to get vaccinated, especially the very young, the very old, and people with chronic health conditions. It's the single best way to prevent getting the flu."
Some pediatric practices in Vermont are currently in the process of ordering more vaccine, so parents should call their child's health care provider and schedule an appointment.
Also available in some provider officers for the first time in Vermont through the Vaccines for Children Program, is a nasal spray form of the vaccine (FluMist). FluMist is available for healthy people ages 2 to 49 who do not have asthma or certain other medical conditions.
Studies are also underway, funded by a vaccine manufacturer, to develop a new vaccine that may provide stronger protection for elderly people. As people get older they are more likely to develop serious complications from influenza.
In addition to being vaccinated against the flu, taking the following simple precautions can help keep illness from spreading:
* Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
* Cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw it away.
* Wash your hands often, especially after you cough or sneeze.
* Use alcohol-based hand wipes and gel sanitizers if soap and water are not available.
* Stay home from work or school if you are sick.
Flu season typically begins each year in December or January and may continue through April. While influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, illness typically peaks in January.
Every flu season 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu. Flu symptoms include fever, body aches, tiredness, headache, dry cough and fever. While most people recover in a week or two, more than 36,000 people in the U.S. die each year from complications of the flu, and 200,000 are hospitalized.
The Vermont Department of Health provides influenza vaccine to health care providers to immunize children 6 months through 18 years old. Seasonal flu shots are also given at public clinics, by Home Health Agencies, the Visiting Nurse Association, and in grocery stores and pharmacies throughout the state.