Protect yourself from the flu, why don’t you?

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You might have heard reports in various news organizations today that the flu season is off to its earliest start in about 10 years, and is expected to be particularly tough this year.

State health officials said that less than 48% of Connecticut residents 6 months of age and older were vaccinated last season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages all people over the age of six months old to be vaccinated. Vaccines are especially encouraged for high-risk groups, including children from 6 months to 18 years of age, women who will be pregnant during the flu season, people at least 50 years old, anyone with certain chronic medical
conditions and people who live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

This year, the influenza vaccine was added to the state’s childhood vaccination program. The Connecticut Vaccination Program (CVP) provides required vaccines at no charge to healthcare providers to immunize all of Connecticut’s children, helping to reduce costs and increase access to vaccination. In addition to the influenza vaccine, the CVP also announced the addition of the pneumococcal conjugate and hepatitis A vaccines to the program, covering fourteen of the
16 vaccines currently recommended by the CDC.

Influenza, commonly known as “flu” or “the flu,” viruses are constantly changing, making it important to get vaccinated every year. Each flu season, different flu viruses can spread, and they can affect people differently based on differences in their immune system. Even healthy children and adults can get very sick from the flu. Every year it’s estimated that more than 200,000 people are hospitalized because of flu-related complications nationwide.
The influenza season runs from October to May, with activity usually peaking between December and March. Vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself, and others, from the flu. Individuals can continue to be vaccinated throughout the course of the flu season. This year’s flu vaccine includes three different strains of the flu virus, including the 2009 H1N1 virus.
Whether you get the flu vaccine or not, there are ways you can avoid the flu this year and stay
healthy:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance
from others to protect them from getting sick, too.
Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands
when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person
touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes,
nose, or mouth.
Seek care early. See your healthcare provider immediately if you develop flu symptoms;
antiviral medications can help if taken early in the illness.
To get vaccinated for the flu: Check with your regular heath care provider to see if they have the flu vaccine available.
Visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder at http://flushot.healthmap.org/ to find a flu clinic
near you.
For more information on influenza and vaccination, visit the DPH website at
www.ct.gov/dph/flu.

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Amanda Cuda

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