State health officials urge Virginians to get flu vaccine

Virginia Department of HealthWith the 2018-2019 flu season officially underway, the Virginia Department of Health encourages all people in Virginia six months and older to receive their annual flu vaccine.

State health officials gathered Wednesday, October 3, to highlight the importance of the vaccine and to receive a flu shot themselves.

“As a physician, I am well aware of how serious influenza can be,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, MD. “I also know that the influenza vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the flu. I encourage each and every person in Virginia to get their flu vaccine this year. Protecting yourselves, your family and your community against the flu starts with getting vaccinated. I applaud those who have already received their flu vaccine and encourage those who haven’t to make time to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

“I echo Secretary Carey’s advice – everyone six months and older, who are able to do so, should get their flu vaccine. Flu can be a serious illness as we saw last flu season,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA, “even mild cases of influenza can lead to lost time at work or with friends and family. When each of us commits to preventive actions such as influenza vaccination, it helps advance the health of us all.”

In addition to Secretary Carey and Commissioner Oliver, a diverse group of health care stakeholders who are active with Virginia’s Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Advisory Group strongly urge Virginians to get a flu shot each year to help protect themselves and others. The organizations that endorse taking that personal health precaution include APIC Virginia, Health Quality Innovators, Leading Age Virginia, Medarva Healthcare, the Medical Society of Virginia, Quality Insights – the Mid-Atlantic Renal Coalition, the Stewardship Interest Group of Virginia, VDH, the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the Virginia Health Care Association-Virginia Center for Assisted Living, the Virginia Pharmacists Association, and the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association. These groups encourage members of the public and health care professionals to get a flu shot.

Flu season, the period of highest influenza activity, normally begins in early October and ends in late May. Influenza vaccination should begin soon after vaccine becomes available. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even in January or later. While seasonal influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, during most seasons influenza activity peaks in January or later.

A flu vaccine is needed every season for two reasons. First, the body’s immune response from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccine is needed for optimal protection. Second, because flu viruses are constantly changing, the formulation of the flu vaccine is reviewed each year and updated to keep up with changing flu viruses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend Taking 3 Actions to Fight the Flu:

  1. Vaccinate
  2. Stop Germs and
  3. Antiviral Drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

For more information on seasonal influenza and getting vaccinated, visit www.misstheflu.com and www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.

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