TRENTON — In recognition of National Influenza Vaccination Week, Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary O’Dowd today recommended that everyone six months of age and older should get a flu shot this winter.
“Now that flu season has arrived, the best way to protect yourself, your family and your co-workers is to get a flu shot,” said O’Dowd. “New Jersey’s flu season peaks in January or February so there is still plenty of time to get vaccinated. I want to thank all of our partners—health care providers, pharmacies, supermarkets, community churches and local and county health departments—for making flu shots available.’’
To find a nearby flu clinic, visit the “Find a Flu Shot” locator on the Department’s website.
A flu shot is especially important for certain groups of individuals who are at higher risk for serious complications. Those groups are: Pregnant women, children under the age of five, people 50 years of age and older, people with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and HIV, people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and health care workers.
“If you are the parent or guardian of a child under the age of six months, please get a flu shot not only to protect yourself but also to protect your baby,” said Deputy Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito, a pediatrician. “If you live in a household with anyone in one of the high risk categories, you should also get vaccinated.”
The CDC estimates between five and 20% of individuals get the flu each year. In New Jersey that means between 420,000 and 1.7 million people will get the flu this year.
Nationally, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 people die due to flu complications each year.
“People should take common sense measures to protect themselves against the flu including washing your hands, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, avoiding close contact with sick people and staying home from work or school if you are sick,” noted O’Dowd.
The symptoms of flu include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue. Most people recover from the flu within two weeks, but some people may develop serious complications such as pneumonia, which can be life-threatening. Individuals with concerns about their symptoms should consult their health care provider.
Those who do get the flu should stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone and stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings.
Vaccines are safe and effective. But some people should not get a flu shot. Children younger than six months of age are too young to get vaccinated and anyone who has ever had a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine also should not get a flu shot. People with known severe allergic reactions to eggs should consult with a doctor with expertise in the management of allergic conditions before receiving a flu vaccine.
For more information about NIVW and flu visit The CDC NIVW web page, http://www.cdc.gov/Features/FightTheFlu/.
For general flu information and resources, visit: http://nj.gov/health/flu/generalinfo.shtml.
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