CCHD Encourages Residents to Take Precautions Against Influenza

As flu season intensifies, the Central Connecticut Health District (CCHD) strongly encourages residents to take precautions to protect themselves against flu virus transmission ahead of peak influenza activity. Over the course of ten flu clinics held this past fall, CCHD has proudly administered 2,378 flu vaccinations to CT residents across the state. CCHD urges residents whom have not already received their flu shot to contact their medical provider today.

Annual flu vaccination is the primary method to provide immunity against the influenza virus, mitigating illness and death caused by influenza-related complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual flu vaccinations for everyone 6 months of age and older, especially among at-risk populations with compromised (weakened) immune systems. Vulnerable populations susceptible to prolonged infection and influenza-related complications include adults over 65 years of age, children under five, pregnant women, and persons with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, lung disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease & emphysema), heart disease (congestive heart failure & coronary artery disease), and diabetes.

Influenza (flu) is a highly contagious viral respiratory infection affecting the nose, throat, and lungs that can cause mild to severe illnesses resulting in hospitalization, and can lead to death. In the United States, the CDC estimates that “influenza has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010”. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle/body aches, runny/stuffy nose, headache, and fatigue. Complications include viral and bacterial pneumonia, ear and/or sinus infections, and exacerbation of existing chronic medical conditions.

As of December 29th, 2018 (2018-2019 Influenza Week 52), the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) has reported a total of 787 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases, 268 influenza-related hospitalizations, and a total of 4 influenza-associated deaths. Influenza A viruses have been identified as the predominant circulating strain this season, accounting for 94% of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases: 662 influenza A (unspecified subtype), 64 influenza A (H1N1), 11 influenza A (H3N2), & 50 influenza B.

CCHD advises residents to take personal protection measures to reduce the risk of contracting the flu by following 10 easy steps:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 30 seconds

  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers

  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

  • Disinfect surfaces and objects that may have become contaminated (phones, doorknobs, keyboards)

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people

  • While sick, limit contact with others

  • If you or your child are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after fever subsides

  • If prescribed antiviral drugs, make sure to follow your medical provider’s instructions

  • Stay informed by following updates, guidelines and recommendations from public health agencies such as the CDC, DPH, and your Local Health Department/District (LHD)

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