Health


Say 'Boo' To The Flu — Get Your Flu Shot By Halloween Or ASAP!

Published: October 27, 2018 at 07:00 am

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On October 19, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) reported its first death from flu this season, which was in a patient over the age of 65.

Flu activity has been slowly increasing since the end of August, and by October 23, the state DPH says 22 people in Connecticut have been hospitalized.

The CDC reports that last season was the deadliest for the flu in four decades, with more than 900,000 people admitted to hospitals and 80,000 dying from flu-related complications, including 154 from Connecticut. Among those flu casualties nationwide last season were 180 children.

Sadly, the CDC also affirmed that 85 percent of last year’s flu victims had not been vaccinated.

Many, if not most, of those deaths could have been prevented with a flu shot — which medical and health experts are advising individuals to get before Halloween or as soon as possible.

“We are coming into that busy time of year,” said Newtown health District Director Donna Culbert.” And the Newtown Health District wants you to think about protecting your health and the health of the people you live and work beside.”

Ms Culbert reminds Newtown residents that the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.

“It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death,” she noted, “so it’s important that our Newtown and Health District residents be careful and take precautions.”

Last season, the flu got a lot of media coverage, Ms Culbert noted.

“There were many questions about the effectiveness of the flu shot, the timing of the flu shot, and there were many other respiratory illnesses in addition to the flu going around,” the health director said. “That’s why getting a flu shot before Halloween or as quickly as possible is one very important step you can take to help stay healthy, not get the flu, or at least lessen its severity if you do contract it. The flu shot may not be 100 percent effective, but any protection is important.”

Ms Culbert said there are many local and upcoming opportunities to get the flu shot, including public inoculation clinics at the Newtown Municipal Center, Thursday November 1, and Newtown Middle School, Saturday November 17.

Local pharmacies are also offering walk-in flu shots.

Stop & Shop Pharmacy at 228 South Main Street, Walgreens at 49 South Main Street, and CVS Pharmacy at 6 Queen Street now have vaccines available for ages 18 years and older. PhysicianOne Urgent Care at 266 South Main Street also offers the vaccine.

Healthy Habits Required

In addition to getting a flu shot, Ms Culbert says good health habits are another excellent way to help protect against the flu.

She provided the following wellness tips:

1. Avoid close contact — Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2. Stay home when you are sick — If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.

3. Cover your mouth and nose — Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

4. Clean your hands — Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth — Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6. Stay healthy/get healthy: Do everything you can to improve your health. The healthier you are, the more resistant your body is to disease. Adopting healthy behaviors such as getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing your stress, drinking plenty of fluids, eating nutritious food, and avoiding tobacco can prevent or reduce the damage done by many illnesses, including influenza.

“Number six is a good one to work on all of the time,” Ms Culbert said. “It will help you with many potential health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, overweight, depression, and stress. Be good to yourself, and take care of your body.”

For more information, visit the state flu information clearinghouse page — or reach the Newtown Health District at 203-270-4291 or via e-mail health.district@newtown-ct.gov

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