(Baltimore, MD) February 21, 2012-The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) reminds Marylanders that influenza season can last into the spring, and that it’s not too late to get vaccinated to protect yourself and your families from the flu.
An annual vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza and its related complications that can lead to hospitalization and even death. The flu season typically peaks in January or February and can last as late as May. Although activity got off to a late start in Maryland this year, influenza is still circulating in Maryland, and DHMH is now receiving reports of outbreaks of influenza-like illness and other indications of influenza activity.
“Getting vaccinated is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Vaccine is still available in many locations, including doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and local health departments,” said Frances Phillips, DHMH Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services. “It’s not too late to get vaccinated.”
Influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of six months. It is especially important for individuals who are at high risk for influenza-related complications and severe disease, including:
- Children of 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 undergoing therapy, or with a condition, that may weaken their immune systems.
Those caring for someone in these groups should also be vaccinated to avoid spreading the disease. These persons include healthcare workers, household contacts of individuals at risk for complications from the flu, and daycare/school workers.
If you believe you are ill with influenza:
- Contact your health care provider for management of flu symptoms or treatment of any complications.
- 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.
- Avoid crowded places like shopping malls or public transportation.
- Stay home from work or school whenever possible to avoid spreading the flu to your friends and coworkers.
For more information about the seasonal influenza, visit http://www.dhmh.maryland.gov/flumd/SitePages/Home.aspx.
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