Health Department Encourages Vermonters to Get Vaccinated Against Seasonal Flu

For Immediate Release: October 30, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health is advising people to get their flu shot. Vaccine is expected to be widely available this year at public clinics and with health care providers.

“Flu vaccine can be given throughout the winter, but it’s easier to find clinics in the fall, so people should get a flu shot now,” said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis, MD. “Each year we urge Vermonters to get vaccinated, especially the very young, the very old, and people with chronic health conditions. It’s the single best way to prevent getting the flu.”

Some pediatric practices in Vermont are currently in the process of ordering more vaccine, so parents should call their child's health care provider and schedule an appointment.

Also available in some provider officers for the first time in Vermont through the Vaccines for Children Program, is a nasal spray form of the vaccine (FluMist). FluMist is available for healthy people ages 2 to 49 who do not have asthma or certain other medical conditions.

Studies are also underway, funded by a vaccine manufacturer, to develop a new vaccine that may provide stronger protection for elderly people. As people get older they are more likely to develop serious complications from influenza.

In addition to being vaccinated against the flu, taking the following simple precautions can help keep illness from spreading:

Flu season typically begins each year in December or January and may continue through April. While influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, illness typically peaks in January.

Every flu season 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu. Flu symptoms include fever, body aches, tiredness, headache, dry cough and fever. While most people recover in a week or two, more than 36,000 people in the U.S. die each year from complications of the flu, and 200,000 are hospitalized.

The Vermont Department of Health provides influenza vaccine to health care providers to immunize children 6 months through 18 years old. Seasonal flu shots are also given at public clinics, by Home Health Agencies, the Visiting Nurse Association, and in grocery stores and pharmacies throughout the state.

To find an adult flu shot clinic in you area visit: healthvermont.gov, then select the flu clinic finder.

Difference Between Seasonal Flu and Pandemic Flu:

Seasonal flu is not the same as pandemic flu, but taking many of the same precautions will help keep illness from spreading. Pandemic flu is a worldwide outbreak of a new and severe strain of influenza for which humans will have little or no immunity. There is NO pandemic at this time, but international, national, state and local governments are working to prepare. There have been three influenza pandemics in the past 100 years; the 1918 pandemic was the most severe.

To prepare for an extreme health emergency such as pandemic flu, the Health Department is asking Vermonters to stay informed and make a family emergency plan, stock up on food and supplies in case you need to stay at home for some time, and take the same precautions as you would to keep seasonal flu from spreading (cover your cough, wash hands, stay away from others when you’re sick.) These precautions will be more important than ever in a pandemic when a vaccine would not be widely available for months.

For more information on pandemic influenza and steps you can take to prepare yourself and loved ones, go to the Health Department's web site: healthvermont.gov and the federal government's web site: pandemicflu.gov.

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