For Immediate Release: March 7, 2019
Vermont Department of Health
802-951-5153 / 802-863-7281
Keep Yourself and Others Healthy Throughout Flu Season
BURLINGTON – With influenza still spreading throughout Vermont, health officials are urging Vermonters to remember that the flu can be dangerous, and to take steps to keep yourself and those around you healthy. Flu was determined to be the primary cause of five Vermont deaths this season. The Department of Health is also attributing a recent pediatric death to the flu, the first in Vermont since 2003.
“Any death from illness is tragic, but the loss of a child is particularly heart-rending, and our deepest sympathies go to the family and loved ones,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD.
Influenza can be a dangerous illness for anyone, but it can be especially harmful for older adults and the very young. Flu also poses a high risk of serious complications for babies too young for the vaccine, pregnant women, and people with a weakened immune system or who have a chronic medical condition such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
“Flu season tends to peak around this time of year and can extend into April or May,” said Dr. Levine. “Protecting yourself all flu season long is key to your own health and to protecting those around you. When enough of us take steps to avoid transmitting illness, we reduce the number of people who get sick and spread it to others.”
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 172 pediatric deaths in the U.S. related to influenza during the 2017-2018 flu season. Nearly 80 percent of those children had not received a flu vaccine. There have been 56 pediatric deaths due to flu in the U.S. so far this season.
Take steps to keep the flu from spreading, and know what to do if you are sick:
- Get vaccinated. Everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot.
- Stay home from work or school until you no longer have a fever or symptoms.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
When to Call Your Child’s Doctor
Symptoms of flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, feeling tired, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. If your child develops flu-like symptoms, call their health care provider right away. Children under 5 years old, especially those younger than 2 years and children with certain long-term health problems, are at high risk of serious flu complications.
When to Go to the Emergency Department
Even healthy children can get very sick from flu. If your child is experiencing any of these warning signs, you should go to the emergency department:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids (not making as much urine as they normally do)
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that they do not want to be held
- Flu symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with rash
People with flu symptoms and who are at high risk of complications should call their health care provider. Adults age 65 and older should talk to their doctor about antiviral treatment right away. Antiviral drugs are most effective within the first 48 hours of the onset of illness.
Learn more about flu:
- Prevention tips and vaccine information, videos and posters in multiple languages: healthvermont.gov/flu
- Outbreak management resources for long-term care facilities, K-12 schools and child care facilities: healthvermont.gov/fluoutbreak
- Flu activity and surveillance: healthvermont.gov/immunizations-infectious-disease/influenza/flu-activity-and-surveillance
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