Get Your Flu Shot Now: First Two Cases Confirmed in Vermont

For Immediate Release: November 25, 2003

Contact: Susan Barry
Immunization Program Chief
802-652-4185

Susan Schoenfeld
Epidemiology Field Unit Chief
802-863-7240

BURLINGTON—The Vermont Department of Health has confirmed two cases of Type A influenza in Chittenden and Franklin counties this week. Typically the influenza season begins each year in December or January, and may continue through the following April. In the past five years, there has been one other year when influenza cases were confirmed as early as November, during the 1999 - 2000 flu season. These first two cases indicate the influenza season has begun in Vermont. Two states, Texas and Nevada, are already experiencing early widespread flu outbreaks.

“It’s not too late to get vaccinated against the flu”, said Health Commissioner Paul Jarris, MD. “I urge everyone, especially children, seniors and those with chronic illnesses to get a flu shot if you haven’t already done so. It may take two weeks for your body to build immunity to the flu after receiving a shot.”

Public clinics will be ending in December, but health care providers are offering flu shots. Information on locations and dates for public flu clinics are located on the Department of Health web site at www.healthyvermonters.info. Contact your health care provider for details about receiving a flu shot.

This year the supply of flu vaccine for the nation is plentiful. The vaccine is made from “killed” virus, so an injection will not make you ill. The Vermont Department of Health provides vaccine specifically for children ages 6 months to 18 years, through health care providers throughout the state. Parents are encouraged to have their children vaccinated.

It is expected that the current U.S. vaccine will offer fairly good protection against another strain of flu virus that predominated in Australia and New Zealand, during the recent southern hemisphere influenza season.

Influenza is caused by a virus that is spread from person to person and is highly contagious. Illness often includes fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches that last for a week or longer. Children can also experience fever and vomiting. Influenza can cause serious complications such as pneumonia, especially in the elderly or people with chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes.