In recognition of National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 2-8), Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd recommended that everyone six months of age and older should get a flu shot this winter.
"Now that flu season has arrived, the best way to protect yourself, your family and your co-workers is to get a flu shot," said Commissioner O'Dowd. "New Jersey's flu season peaks in January or February so there is still plenty of time to get vaccinated. I want to thank all of our partners-health care providers, pharmacies, supermarkets, community churches and local and county health departments-for making flu shots available.''
To find a nearby flu clinic, please visit the Find a Flu Shot Locator on the Department's website.
A flu shot is especially important for certain groups of individuals who are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications. These groups include: pregnant women, children under the age of five, but especially younger than 2 years old, people 65 years of age and older, and people with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and HIV). In addition, there are other people for whom vaccination is especially important-people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and people who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from the flu. Health care workers are recommended to receive the flu vaccine to reduce the transmission of influenza-related illness and death, especially to patients at increased risk for severe flu complications.
"If you are the parent or guardian of a child under the age of six months, please get a flu shot not only to protect yourself but also to protect your baby," said Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito. "If you live in a household with anyone in one of the high risk categories, you should also get vaccinated."
For millions of people each year, the flu can bring a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, and fatigue. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States from flu complications each year. The flu also can be deadly.
"People should take common sense measures to protect themselves against the flu including washing your hands, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, avoiding close contact with sick people and staying home from work or school if you are sick," noted O'Dowd.
The symptoms of flu include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue. Most people recover from the flu within two weeks, but some people may develop serious complications such as pneumonia, which can be life-threatening. Individuals with concerns about their symptoms should consult their health care provider.
Those who do get the flu should stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone except to get medical care. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.) You should stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings.
Vaccines are safe and effective. Vaccine supplies are ample this year. There are many choices available for the flu vaccine. This season, the regular flu shot is available with the nasal spray vaccine. The nasal spray is an option for healthy people 2-49 years of age. Women who are pregnant should not receive the nasal spray vaccine. There is also a "high-dose" vaccine for people 65 years of age and older and an intradermal vaccine with a much smaller needle that is approved for use in people 18 to 64 years old.
But some people should not get a flu shot. Children younger than six months of age are too young to get vaccinated and anyone who has ever had a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine also should not get a flu shot. People with known severe allergic reactions to eggs should consult with a doctor with expertise in the management of allergic conditions before receiving a flu vaccine.
For more information about NIVW and flu please visit The CDC NIVW web page.
For general flu information and resources, please visit: http://nj.gov/health/flu/generalinfo.shtml.