The 2012-2013 flu season is off to an early start. In the last 2-4 weeks there has been an early and comparatively higher peak in the number of cases in Connecticut when compared to previous years. This is not indicative that an elevated number will remain—or further increase—throughout the season, but it is indeed a cause of concern about a potentially bad season.
A flu surveillance system in CT is based on estimates from the percent of total visits to the emergency department for “fever/flu” syndrome (10.4% statewide). Hospitals in the New Haven area are showing the same percentage of flu cases as the entire state.
According to the CDC, everyone who is at least 6 months of age should get the flu vaccine. It is especially important for certain groups of people to get vaccinated. Those people include the following:
• People who are at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get sick with the flu. This includes: people who have certain medical conditions (including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease); pregnant women; and people 65 years and older.
• People who live with or care for others who are at high risk of developing serious complications. This includes household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
There are some people who should not get a flu vaccine without first consulting a doctor. These include:
• People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
• People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
• Children younger than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group).
• People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (wait until they recover to get vaccinated).
• People with a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome that occurred after receiving influenza vaccine and who are not at risk for severe illness from influenza should generally not receive vaccine. Tell your doctor if you ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Your doctor will help you decide whether the vaccine is recommended for you.
In Connecticut, all pre-K students must have received the flu vaccine by the beginning of the year or be excluded from school. Additionally, all children ages 6-59 months attending a child day care center, group day care home or family day care home are required to receive the flu vaccine.
Flu vaccine is available from providers in the area including most of the pharmacies. Residents are encouraged to contact their doctor to get more information and receive the flu vaccine.