Help stem the spread of flu this season
BURLINGTON — With cases already reported in the state, flu season is upon us and Vermont health officials say now is the time for everyone six months and older to get their annual flu vaccine. It takes about two weeks for full protection from the vaccine to kick in, making it a just-in-time step as people prepare for holiday travel and family gatherings.
“Getting a flu shot is the best protection we have against the serious risks of flu illness,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “The vaccine markedly lowers the risk of illness, hospitalizations and deaths related to the flu. Preventing the flu also means avoiding extra doctor visits and missed days of work and school.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year’s vaccine looks to be a good match for the expected influenza virus strains. “Vaccine effectiveness can vary from season to season,” said Dr. Levine, “but bottom line, vaccination is your best bet to avoid illness. And if you do get the flu, your symptoms will be less severe.”
Getting the flu vaccine is especially important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from the flu, including adults age 65 and older, people with a weakened immune system, and those who have certain health conditions like heart disease or asthma. It is also important that people who work or live with those at high risk are vaccinated.
People who are pregnant should get a flu shot to protect themselves and their baby. Getting vaccinated during pregnancy can help protect newborns during their first several months, when they are still too young to get a flu shot themselves.
Dr. Levine said risk of flu will increase for the next several months. “During winter, we spend more time indoors making it easier to spread germs. Now is the time to get your flu shot.”
Vermonters can get their flu shot at one of more than 300 locations across Vermont, including local pharmacies, supermarkets and from their health care provider. To find a location near you, go to healthvermont.gov/flu.
Tips for Preventing Flu:
• Get a flu vaccine.
• Stop the spread of germs. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Avoid contact with sick individuals. Stay home if you are sick. Cover your nose when you cough and sneeze.
• Take antiviral medications if your doctor prescribes them. If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.
• Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids.
Learn more about the flu and flu vaccine at healthvermont.gov/flu and cdc.gov/flu.
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