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For Release:
September 23, 2009

Heather Howard

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Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Commissioner Howard Encourages Individuals to get Seasonal Flu Shots


New Jersey Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard encourages all state residents to get seasonal flu shots and to practice good hygiene habits to reduce the spread of flu viruses.


“We’re expecting a busy fall flu season so it is especially important this year that everyone get a seasonal flu shot as soon as possible,” said Commissioner Howard. “We expect there will be enough vaccine available for anyone who wants a seasonal flu shot. Flu shots are the best protection against influenza and they are especially recommended for people at high risk for flu complications.”


High risk groups for seasonal flu include people aged 50 and older, those with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, pregnant women and children ages six months to five years, according to the Center for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. In addition, people who live with or care for those at high risk for flu complications should be vaccinated to reduce the risk of infecting their families and co-workers.


Governor Jon Corzine recently announced a sweeping agreement with health insurers to cover H1N1 vaccinations as well as free H1N1 vaccinations for uninsured New Jerseyans at public health clinics in every county throughout the State. 


Seasonal influenza is a contagious respiratory viral illness. On average each year, five to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications each year in the U.S., including 20,000 children, and 36,000 people die.


Although the seasonal flu shot only offers protection against seasonal flu, it will keep individuals healthy and their immune systems strong against other diseases such as H1N1 influenza. An H1N1 vaccine has been developed by the CDC and should be ready for distribution in mid-October.


“We also strongly recommend that healthcare workers and caregivers of high risk individuals also get a flu shot,” said Commissioner Howard. “Those who care for infants, the elderly and people with illnesses that weaken their immune systems should protect themselves and those they care for by getting a flu shot.’’


The Department advises residents to observe good hygiene practices like covering coughs and sneezes. Everyone should also wash their hands frequently, stay home from work or school if they are sick and, if possible, avoid contact with those who are sick.


For information about seasonal flu, visit the DHSS website at 

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