Flu shots strongly recommended for residents

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that this year’s flu virus has thus far been particularly severe among people aged 65 and older, with that age group accounting for 70% of all patients who have been hospitalized with influenza.

In addition, DPH reports: A steep increase in the number of Connecticut residents who have been hospitalized with influenza over the past five weeks.

If the duration of this influenza season is similar to the past two influenza seasons, Connecticut may be four to six weeks away from peak influenza activity, which usually occurs in mid-February.

“The protection provided by a flu shot against contracting the virus or at a bare minimum lessening the severity and duration of the illness if you get the flu cannot be understated.  I strongly recommend anyone who has not yet received the flu vaccine to get one as soon as possible,” urged DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino. “It is not too late to protect yourself from what is looking to be a particularly strong flu season.”

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that is spread through the air and by direct contact with respiratory droplets. Typical symptoms of the flu include sudden fever, aching muscles, sore throat, coughing, runny nose, headache, and eye pain.  While anyone, particularly individuals who are not vaccinated, can contract the flu, the illness is especially dangerous for certain groups, including: people aged 65 and older; children younger than two years old; people of any age with chronic medical conditions, like asthma, diabetes, congestive heart failure, or lung disease; and pregnant women. Flu shots are extremely important for these certain groups of individuals.

It is also essential that preventative actions are taken to prevent the spread of germs during this time to prevent the flu from spreading. Below are a few things,the CDC recommends you can do to protect your loved ones and yourself.

Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

The Naugatuck Valley Health District (NVHD) has flu shots available for residents who still need to get one. Shots are available at NVHD located at 98 Bank St in Seymour during the business hours of 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. and will be given by appointment. Call Kristin @ 203-881-3255 to schedule your appointment. If you would like to get a flu shot outside of NVHD’s business hours, please visit your local pharmacy, grocery store, urgent care facility, or physician’s office for one. You can also visit CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/to locate flu shots near you using their “flu vaccine finder”.