“Maryland’s first confirmed seasonal flu case reminds us of the importance of getting vaccinated to protect ourselves and those around us,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, DHMH Secretary. “Influenza infection can be serious, but it can also be prevented.”
The influenza vaccine protects against both influenza A and B strains, including the H1N1 strain. The vaccine is widely available, and Maryland residents are urged to get protected now by contacting their health care provider, local health department or neighborhood pharmacy.
“We recommend that everyone above the age of 6 months get the seasonal flu vaccine,” said Dr. Laura Herrera, DHMH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services. “Vaccine is available throughout Maryland, and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated now to avoid missing work and school this season.”
The virus that causes influenza spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing, as well as through direct contact with infected people and contaminated surfaces or objects. Symptoms usually begin one to four days after being exposed to the virus, and include fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue and body aches.
Influenza vaccine is especially important for individuals who are at high risk for influenza-related complications and severe disease, including:
- Children 6 months to 18 years of age;
- Persons 50 years of age and older;
- Pregnant women;
- Persons of any age with chronic medical conditions; and
- Persons with weakened immune systems.
Contact your healthcare provider, local health department, or neighborhood pharmacy to get vaccinated.
- If you believe you are ill with influenza:
- Stay home from work and school whenever possible to avoid spreading the flu to your friends and coworkers.
- Get rest and drink plenty of fluids.
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wash your hands often.
- Contact your healthcare provider for management of flu symptoms or treatment of any complications.
Maryland has an Internet-based Maryland Resident Influenza Tracking Survey (MRITS). This tool is designed to enhance the state’s existing influenza surveillance by monitoring influenza-like illnesses among residents who may not seek medical care. Please volunteer! Sign up at http://flusurvey.dhmh.md.gov/ to receive on-line surveys where you can report any flu-like symptoms each week.
For more information about the seriousness of influenza and the benefits of vaccination, visit http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/influenza/SitePages/Home.aspx or http://www.cdc.gov/flu/ or http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/index.htm or call CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO.