Vaccine in Good Supply; Protects Against 3 Flu Strains
HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Department of Health is reminding all Pennsylvania residents, six months of age and older, to get vaccinated against the flu.
"The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year," said Secretary of Health Dr. Eli Avila. "Now is the perfect time to get the vaccine before flu activity starts to increase in the coming weeks."
This year's seasonal influenza vaccine provides protection against three types of flu: 2009 pandemic H1N1, influenza A/H3N2 and influenza B. Flu season typically runs from October through May, and often peaks between January and March.
Influenza can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in many people. On average, five to 20 percent of the U.S. population develops influenza each year. Last flu season, there were 115 flu-related deaths nationwide in people younger than 18 years of age.
"There is a good supply of the vaccine this year, available at more sites than ever before," said Avila.
Avila added that it's especially important for certain people to get vaccinated, either because they are at high risk for having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications. These individuals include:
- Pregnant women;
- Children younger than 5, and especially children younger than 2;
- Adults 50 years of age and older;
- Anyone with certain chronic medical conditions;
- Nursing home or other long-term care facility residents;
- Health care workers;
- Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu; and
- Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (children who are too young to be vaccinated).
All Pennsylvanians should practice the following steps to help prevent the spread of influenza and other respiratory illnesses:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and immediately discard the used tissue. If you don't have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve, but never into your hands or onto bare skin;
- Keep your hands away from your face and do not touch your mouth, nose and eyes;
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
- Keep frequently used surfaces such as knobs, countertops and desks clean; and
- Stay home from work or school whenever you are sick to avoid infecting others. For the flu, stay home until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
Individuals seeking influenza vaccine are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider or call 877- PA-HEALTH. For more information on seasonal influenza, visit www.health.state.pa.us or go to www.flufreepa.com to find a flu vaccine provider location in your area.
Media contact: Christine Cronkright or Holli Senior, 717-787-1783
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health