STATE — In recognition of National Influenza Vaccination Week (Dec. 5-11), New Jersey Health and Senior Services Commissioner Dr. Poonam Alaigh is encouraging residents to get their flu shot to protect themselves and their families.
“With the colder months and holidays upon us, people tend to be inside more and are more likely to spread virus, including the flu,” said Dr. Alaigh. “The safest and most effective method of prevention against the flu is to get vaccinated. While many people get vaccinated in October or November, it’s still not too late to get a flu shot.”
For the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over the age of six months get vaccinated. Many groups, including people age 50 years and older; people with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes; and pregnant women are at higher risk for complications from influenza. Health care workers and caregivers of high-risk individuals are also at increased risk and should get vaccinated.
This year’s flu shot includes the H1N1 strain, so residents only need to receive one flu shot.
“It is especially important for the young, the elderly and health care workers to get flu shots to protect themselves and their families,” said Dr. Alaigh. “Flu is a serious illness that can lead to hospitalization and, unfortunately, death. Because flu activity peaks in January and February, now is the ideal time to get a flu shot.”
Those with underlying medical conditions who may need regular medical care should talk to their physicians.
Along with vaccination, Dr. Alaigh 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.
For information about seasonal flu, visit the DHSS website at www.nj.gov/health/flu Materials are available for the general public and for healthcare workers on preventing the spread of flu, respiratory hygiene and hand washing. Residents interested in getting an influenza vaccination can click on the “Find a Flu Shot” button on the DHSS Flu web page.
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