STATE—With the cold weather upon us and the holiday season fast approaching, New Jersey Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard reminds all residents that it is not to late to get a flu shot.
“When the weather gets colder and people begin socializing indoors, it creates a perfect environment for the spread of all infectious diseases, but especially influenza,” said Howard. “Even though many people get flu shots in October or early November, people who have not gotten a flu shot should do so. It is the best protection against the flu.”
The flu leads to an estimated 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. each year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Influenza can have serious complications, especially for older people, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions.
During National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 8 through 14, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) continues to emphasize the importance of getting a flu shot during the months of December and January and beyond.
“It is especially important for the young, the elderly and health care workers to get flu shots to protect themselves and their families,” said Commissioner Howard. “These populations are most vulnerable to the flu and its complications.”
Vaccinations are recommended for all individuals who want to decrease the risk of influenza. Many groups, including people aged 50 years and older, people with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and pregnant women are at a higher risk for complications from influenza. In addition, health care workers and caregivers of high risk individuals are also at increased risk and should get vaccinated.
The CDC now recommends that all children age 6 to 59 months be vaccinated as they are considered at higher risk for complications and hospitalization.
Vaccine supply levels this year are unprecedented. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 140 million doses have been produced by licensed manufacturers in the U.S. this season.
Along with vaccination, Howard emphasized that there are other steps to take to prevent the spread of illness:
- Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Stay home if you are sick.
National Influenza Vaccination Week is a collaboration of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, including the CDC, and the National Influenza Vaccine Summit. For more information on influenza, including where you can find a clinic that offers flu shots, visit www.nj.gov/health/flu. For more information on National Influenza Vaccination Week, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.
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