With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting the geographic “widespread” of the flu in 24 states including New Jersey, the New Jersey Department of Health has received notification of a confirmed the first pediatric flu death, one of seven pediatric deaths reported by the CDC so far this season.
““I am deeply saddened for the family of this young child, who experienced an unthinkable loss,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal in a January 8th statement. The child, from the central region of the state, died in late December. For reasons of medical privacy, the Department will not be releasing additional information.
Don’t Forget to Get Your Flu Shots
Two months earlier Einahal received his flu shot at Henry J. Austin Health Center to encourage New Jerseyans to get vaccinated. At the Oct. 12th press conference, he noted that last year’s flu season was the most severe in decades. “Flu vaccination is the single most important step we can take to protect ourselves and our families against infection,” he said.
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for children 5 months and younger to those persons age 65 and over and persons who have medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes.
Flu vaccination should also be a priority for caregivers taking care for individuals at higher risk for influenza-related complications.
“The Department continues to recommend that individuals also take necessary precautions like washing their hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when sick,” said Elnahal. “If you do get sick, ask your healthcare provider if antiviral medications are right for you. These medications can shorten the length of time you are sick.” The symptoms of flu include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue.
Wash Your Hands…
There is high flu activity throughout the state so it’s important for those who have not yet gotten a flu shot—especially health care workers—to get one, recommends the New Jersey Department of Health, calling on people to take the necessary precautions during this flu season: wash or disinfect your hands frequently, cover any coughs and sneezes, stay home and call your health care provider if you are sick (especially with a fever).
According to the CDC, antiviral drugs used for treatment can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by 1 or 2 days. These drugs can also prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. For those persons at high risk of getting serious flu complications, treatment with antiviral drugs can mean the difference between a milder or more serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
The flu season will be here for months. Seasonal flu activity often begins as early as October and November and can continue to occur as late as May. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.
With significant flu still to come this season, CDC continues to recommend that anyone who has not yet gotten a flu vaccine this season should get vaccinated now. It takes approximately two weeks for the protection provided by vaccination to begin.
For more information about influenza, including where to find the vaccine, visit the Department’s flu website at http://nj.gov/health/cd/topics/flu.shtml.