North Dakota health officials report increase in influenza
BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) is reporting a sharp increase in influenza activity and is reminding North Dakotans that it is not too late to get an influenza vaccine.
This season, there have been 1,989 laboratory-identified influenza cases reported to the NDDoH compared to 750 at the same time last year. Many are individuals younger than 10 years of age. During the 2018-2019 influenza season, there were 116 reported pediatric deaths nationwide. So far this season there have been 19 reported pediatric deaths nationwide. Only 47% of kids in North Dakota age 6 months to 4 years are currently vaccinated.
“Everyone six months and older should be vaccinated, regardless of health status,” said Levi Schlosser, influenza surveillance coordinator with the NDDoH. “Anyone can get the flu, including healthy individuals, and getting the flu vaccine is the easiest and safest way to protect yourself, as well as your friends and family.”
The flu vaccine not only can prevent someone from getting sick but can reduce the risk of influenza-associated hospitalization and death. “Studies have shown that if someone still gets sick but is vaccinated, they may have less severe illness, reduce their risk of being hospitalized, and spend fewer days in the hospital when they are hospitalized,” said Schlosser.
In addition to the influenza vaccine, you can help protect yourself from contracting the flu by avoiding contact with sick people, washing your hands often, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
People who have not had their influenza vaccine yet this season should get it as soon as possible, as it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to provide full protection. For information about vaccine availability, people should contact their local public health unit, health care provider, or pharmacist. For information about influenza, visit www.ndflu.com.