Health Officials Urge Pennsylvanians to Get Flu Shots

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Department of Health has launched the “Stopping the Flu Starts with YOU” campaign, which urges Pennsylvanians to protect themselves and their loved ones against the seasonal flu by getting vaccinated and taking other preventive measures.

“Getting a vaccine is the first and best way to protect against the flu,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy. “We know that certain people are at greater risk for developing flu-related complications. These individuals include infants and children, seniors, pregnant women, and those with chronic medical conditions. It is especially important that these at-risk individuals get annual flu vaccines, as well as their caregivers and medical providers.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. There are two important reasons to get a flu vaccine every year. First, flu viruses are constantly changing, and vaccines may be updated yearly to protect against the viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming flu season. Second, a person’s immune protection from the vaccine decreases over time.

In addition to getting vaccinated, the Department of Health asks all Pennsylvanians to consider practicing the following preventive measures:

  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and throw any used tissues in the trash.
  • Keep hands away from face, and don’t touch eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Disinfect frequently used surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, TV remotes, or countertops.
  • Avoid contact with individuals who may have the flu. When sick, stay home until at least 24 hours after your fever goes away on its own without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

“Research supports the reality that getting a vaccine will not give an individual the flu,” said Secretary Murphy. “In fact, vaccines given with a needle do not contain ‘live’ flu viruses and cannot make you sick. If you do get sick after getting vaccinated, you were likely infected with the virus before vaccination or during the two-week window when your body is building up antibodies to protect you from the virus. Vaccines remain the safest, best protection against preventable illnesses like the flu.”

Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. In the U.S., it is estimated that an average of 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the flu, and hundreds of thousands are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications. During Pennsylvania’s last flu season, there were 55,509 cases of flu, and 221 Pennsylvanians died from flu complications. Rates of serious illness and death are highest among persons over the age of 65 and individuals of any age who have chronic medical conditions that place them at increased risk for complications from influenza.

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