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Significant Rates of Seasonal Influenza in Harford County

Health Department Recommends Flu Vaccination and Precautions

 

Harford County, MD – The Health Department reminds the public that Influenza illness cannot be taken lightly.  Strains of influenza currently circulating are typical in terms of historical severity and frequency.  Early indications are that this season has been worse than the past two seasons that were characterized as mild flu seasons.

 

In response to growing public demand for vaccine, Upper Chesapeake Health will be holding a public seasonal flu walk-up vaccination clinic on Saturday, January 12, 2013 from 10:00AM until 1:00PM at the Harford Mall near the Yankee Candle store.  A limited amount of vaccine will be available on a first come, first served basis for a cost of $20 payable by cash or check, or upon proof of having Medicare Part B.

 

Harford County Health Officer, Ms. Susan Kelly, states, “It’s critical to our community’s best public health interests that everyone understands the unpredictable nature of influenza.  There’s no way of anticipating with any certainty how serious an impact seasonal flu will have in the coming months.  However, we do know that the more people who receive the vaccine, the less likely it is that influenza illness will spread in the coming months.”  She indicates the vaccine is proven, effective, and is a good match with current influenza strains.  Flu vaccinations also are available through the Health Department, primary care providers and pharmacies.

 

Ms. Kelly also urges county residents to also continue practicing basic flu protection and prevention measures, including:

  • frequent hand-washing, especially after coughing or sneezing
  • covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • discarding tissues immediately after use
  • avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • staying home and limiting contact with others if you are sick with flu-like symptoms
  • avoiding close contact with sick people

For people who do not get vaccinated, the risks are twofold.  First, they put themselves at risk for the flu, including a potentially long and serious illness.  Second, if they do get sick, they also put their close contacts at immediate risk for influenza.  Flu can be especially serious for babies, young children, pregnant women, persons with certain chronic medical conditions, and seniors, who are at high risk of flu-related complications or death.

 

Influenza illness is generally characterized by the abrupt onset of signs and symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain, nonproductive cough, sore throat, nasal inflammation and congestion and a general sense of feeling sick. Among children, ear inflammation, nausea, and vomiting also are commonly reported with influenza illness. Uncomplicated influenza illness typically goes away after three to seven days for the majority of persons, although cough and general weakness can persist for two weeks or longer.

 

Complications are common in individuals with health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and lung problems, but may occur with anyone who has the flu. If the ill person develops any of the following symptoms, call your healthcare provider:

  • Difficulty breathing, fast breathing, or bluish color to the skin or lips
  • Coughing up blood
  • Signs of dehydration and cannot take enough liquids
  • Difficulty responding or communicating appropriately or appears confused
  • Convulsions (seizures)
  • Gets worse after appearing to improve
  • Is an infant younger than 2 months old with fever, poor feeding, urinating less than 3 times per day or other signs of illness

The Harford County Health Department has been providing flu vaccinations to the public at the Woodbridge clinical center in Edgewood since October, and in cooperation with Harford County public and private schools, participated in an annual Flu-Mist outreach to all elementary school students.

 

More information on seasonal influenza is available on the Harford County Health Department website --- click Website below --- or by calling 410-612-1781.
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