Getting Your Flu Shot is Easier Than Ever Before: Attorney General Matt Denn Joins DPH at NcCo Flu Clinic to Encourage Vaccinations

DOVER – Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn joined Division of Public Health (DPH) officials to encourage all residents to get their flu shot at a free flu clinic held today in Wilmington. The clinic, held at the Porter State Service Center, was the first one in New Castle County for the 2016-2017 flu season.

A full listing of upcoming DPH flu clinics in each county can be found at flu.delaware.gov. This includes DPH’s first drive-thru flu clinic in several years, scheduled for October 27, 2016, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the parking lot of the Blue Hen Corporate Center. DPH will also provide flu shots to children ages 6 months to 18 years at the following State Service Centers by appointment: Hudson (Newark), Williams (Dover), Adams (Georgetown) and Shipley (Seaford). For a list of pharmacies and other locations where flu shots are offered near you, use the Flu Vaccine Finder on Flu.gov and enter your zip code.

The Porter Service Center flu clinic provided a festive atmosphere with a live DJ spinning music and staff handing out free gift cards to the first 150 people to receive their flu shots. Attorney General Denn was one of 218 individuals to receive a flu shot at the event. The Delaware Division of Public Health is promoting the importance of annual flu vaccination this year through its statewide “Vaccination: protecting each other” outreach campaign. The campaign is aimed at urging people who are not considered at high risk for getting the flu to get vaccinated. Even those not in a high-risk group, likely live or interact with those who are such as young children, older adults or those with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems.

“As the father of two young boys, I want to make sure I protect myself from getting the flu, and prevent them from catching it from me,” said Attorney General Denn. “The protection offered by vaccinations is important for everyone, not just those at high risk.”

“Getting your flu vaccination is easier than ever before with all of the locations available to Delawareans,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We are hoping to again reduce the number of influenza cases in Delaware this flu season. The best protection against getting the flu is to take a few minutes of your time to receive a vaccination. We hope the majority of Delawareans follow Attorney General Denn’s lead and get vaccinated for the upcoming season.”

Last flu season, there were 2,064 flu cases reported in Delaware including six flu-related deaths. This year’s vaccine helps to protect against up to four strains of influenza. The flu clinic also served as a preparedness exercise, so DPH staff could practice their readiness in the event of a large-scale health emergency and test the ability to accommodate people with disabilities. American Sign Language interpreters were on hand to assist the deaf and hard of hearing , and bilingual staff were available to assist with translations.

DPH urges all Delawareans 6 months of age and older who have not yet been vaccinated against the flu to get a vaccination as soon as possible. The flu is easy to transmit and the vaccine is the best protection. The vaccine is readily available through medical providers, pharmacies, and some grocery stores. DPH is conducting public flu clinics including some with evening hours at various locations in the state. For DPH flu clinic schedules this season, visit http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html.

Flu vaccination reduces the risk of getting sick from the flu or spreading the disease to others. It is especially important that the following groups get flu shots:

• Seniors;
• Pregnant women and their household contacts;
• Caregivers and household contacts of children younger than 6 months, since those children are too young to receive the vaccine;
• Those with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems;
• Food service providers;
• Health care providers.

Delawareans are also encouraged to prevent infection by taking simple everyday measures such as washing hands, using hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes and staying at home when sick. These efforts help stop the spread of respiratory illnesses including flu.

Flu symptoms come on suddenly, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, and fatigue. Some people get complications including pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. Providers can prescribe antiviral medicines to make illness milder, hasten recovery, and prevent serious complications, hospitalizations, and even death.

Beginning in October each year, DPH monitors the occurrence of influenza-like illnesses in hospitals, selected long-term care facilities, and medical clinics to track flu trends in the state.

For more information on influenza prevention, diagnosis and treatment, as well as for a listing of DPH flu clinics visit flu.delaware.gov or call DPH at 888-282-8672. DPH’s seasonal flu shot clinics are intended for Delawareans age nine and older who have no healthcare provider or whose insurance does not cover flu vaccinations. Those with Medicaid or Medicare are welcome to attend but should bring their insurance card since their insurance will be billed accordingly.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


Governor’s Weekly Message: Empowering Everybody to Prepare for Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies

Wilmington, DE – In his weekly message, Governor Markell encourages all Delawareans to take time now to prepare for natural disasters and other emergency situations, and reviews new resources available to assist them through the interactive website www.PrepareDE.org provided by state public health and emergency management agencies.

“Severe weather, natural disasters, and public health emergencies can threaten the safety of our people, homes, and communities,” Governor Markell said. “As Governor, I’ve observed how fortunate we are to have so many exceptional public servants hard at work keeping us safe during rain, wind, and snow events, as well as other emergencies. By preparing now, you will best position yourself and your loved ones to respond quickly and safely should an emergency occur. And that will keep Delaware moving forward.”

Every week, the Governor’s office releases a new Weekly Message in video, audio, and transcript form. The message is available on:

YouTube: https://youtu.be/B3BTNVgp8gw
Delaware.Gov: http://governor.delaware.gov/podcast_video.shtml
By email: Please contact our press team to subscribe to our press list
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/governormarkell
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/governormarkell

Transcript of the Governor’s Weekly Message: Empowering Everybody to Prepare for Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies


Department of Justice, Division of Public Health To Provide Lifesaving Opioid Antidote to Law Enforcement Agencies

As part of the state’s ongoing effort to reduce the number of heroin and opioid related deaths in Delaware, Attorney General Matt Denn allocated funds to be used to purchase approximately 450 naloxone kits for law enforcement agencies through a partnership with the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH). The approximately $50,000 for the purchase comes from the state’s Special Law Enforcement Assistance Fund (SLEAF).

Administration of naloxone can reverse the potentially fatal respiratory depression caused by overdose of heroin and other opioids. Availability of naloxone to law enforcement, emergency medical providers, school nurses and trained community volunteers have been expanding over the past two years, spurred by legislative measures and efforts by government agencies to purchase or get donated doses of naloxone. Police officers in six departments — New Castle County, Elsmere, Newark, Middletown, Smyrna and Ocean View — have saved lives with the naloxone they were carrying.

The allocation was recommended by the SLEAF Committee consisting of representatives of law enforcement from around the state, based on an application submitted by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“When releasing my plan to address substance use disorders last summer, I specifically encouraged our state’s law enforcement community to expand the number of officers who carry naloxone,” said Attorney General Denn, “but unfortunately, the cost of the medication made it prohibitive. I’m very pleased that the SLEAF application, drafted by Deputy Attorney General Mike Undorf from our Fraud & Consumer Protection Division, received all of the necessary approvals and will soon put this lifesaving tool in the hands of our officers.”

In 2014, Gov. Jack Markell signed legislation allowing law enforcement departments to carry and administer naloxone.

“The first step toward recovery from addiction is to save the life,” Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf said. “We are grateful that Attorney General Denn and the Special Law Enforcement Assistance Fund believe that providing naloxone to more police officers is an important step in breaking the horrific cycle of addiction. Once an individual’s life is saved, we can connect them to treatment so they can live a full and healthy life in long-term recovery.”

DPH will purchase and distribute the kits over the next two to three months.

“Delaware is in the middle of an opioid addiction epidemic like much of the nation,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Too many people are dying. Naloxone is a proven method for reversing drug overdoses and expanding access in the community can save lives. We are so pleased Attorney General Denn is securing the funding to meet this important community need.”

Advocacy organization atTAcK Addiction has been one of the leading proponents of naloxone deployment in Delaware.

“atTAcK addiction is extremely pleased to hear of this funding source for the lifesaving medication naloxone,” said atTAcK Addiction board member David Humes. “Currently only 6 of 47 departments of peace officers are trained and carrying naloxone. With greater funding availability we believe it will eliminate a perceived obstacle to those departments of law enforcement who wish to put a priority on saving lives.”

SLEAF is funded by money obtained through criminal forfeiture actions, and is administered through the Department of Justice to enhance the suppression, investigation and prosecution of criminal activity, promote officer safety, facilitate the training of law-enforcement personnel, further public safety, public education, and community awareness and improve victim services.

The funding for expanded use of naloxone was one piece of a plan announced by the Attorney General last August to reduce overdose deaths. Other proposals underway include: strengthening regulations that govern the amount of care that health care providers must exercise in prescribing opiate drugs, with revised regulations are currently out for public comment; and creation of a commission to review deaths caused by prescription opiate and heroin overdoses, approved recently by the General Assembly and Governor in Senate Bill 174.


Delaware Announces Two More Travel-Related Positive Zika Cases

Dover – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) announced today the state’s second and third Zika cases, bringing the total number of Delaware cases to three. All three cases are travel-related and the result of a mosquito bite during visits to the countries where Zika is widespread. In the second case, an adult male was tested after showing symptoms of the disease from a January 2016 trip. In the third case, an adult female also showed symptoms of the disease following a late February-early March trip. Pregnancy is not an issue. Both cases were mild and risk of infection to others is extremely low.

Zika is primarily spread by mosquito bite, and is not spread through casual contact like hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing utensils, etc. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy. It is not yet known how often Zika is transmitted from mother to baby. In rare cases, it also may be transmitted sexually in semen. While Zika does not remain in the blood for longer than about a week, which means that transmission from person-to-person via mosquito bite must occur within a very tight timeframe, it is not known how long Zika remains in semen.

Zika is a very mild illness and the vast majority of people exposed to it do not develop symptoms. Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes).

The most significant long-term health problems linked to Zika are serious birth defects. There have been reports of serious birth defects in infants whose mothers contracted the virus while pregnant. Microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age, and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers infected with Zika are now being linked to the virus.

Because there is neither a vaccine nor antiviral medications available to prevent Zika virus infection, DPH joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in sharing precautions for pregnant women or women who may get pregnant:

• If you are pregnant, postpone travel to the countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
• If you are pregnant and have traveled to the countries where Zika transmission is ongoing, talk to a healthcare provider about your travel even if you don’t feel sick. It is especially important that pregnant women see a doctor if they develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes during their trip or within two weeks after traveling to an area where Zika has been reported.
• If your male sexual partner has traveled to, or lives in, an area with active Zika virus transmission, a couple should use condoms the right way, every time, (Condom instructions for vaginal, anal, or oral (mouth-to-penis) sex. Discuss your male partner’s potential exposures and history of Zika-like illness with your doctor. If you are trying to become pregnant, talk to your doctor before you travel about your plans to become pregnant and the risk associated with Zika virus.
• If you are pregnant or may become pregnant and must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
• If you are not pregnant, but your male partner lives in or has traveled to a country with Zika, consider using condoms.

“We are not surprised that there are additional Zika cases in Delaware given how often people travel and that the virus is now so widespread in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “With the upcoming spring break and a potential for even more travel to the countries where Zika is common, DPH reminds people to avoid being bitten and, if a woman is pregnant or trying to get pregnant, postpone travel if at all possible, and talk to your doctor if you plan to travel. It is also important to consider the risk of sexual transmission of the virus, and to use condoms if it is possible the male sexual partner has been exposed to the virus.”

Added DPH Medical Director Dr. Awele Maduka-Ezeh, “Zika transmission continues to spread to new countries and the best way for people to protect themselves from Zika or any mosquito-borne illness is to prevent mosquito bites during travel abroad and during Delaware’s mosquito season. It is possible that local transmission could occur either from mosquito bites once the season starts, from sexual transmission, or from mother to baby during pregnancy. Taking precautions is the best protection.”

Health care providers should ask all their patients about recent travel, and all pregnant women with a travel history should be evaluated for Zika. Because of the similar geographic distribution and clinical presentation of Zika, dengue, and chikungunya virus infection, patients with symptoms consistent with Zika virus should also be evaluated for dengue and chikungunya virus infection, in accordance with existing guidelines.

DPH and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) always work together during mosquito season but, with the spread of Zika in other countries, this year is an especially important time to take steps to protect you and your family from mosquito bites. Visit the DPH Website for a joint DPH and DNREC Frequently Asked Questions flyer on Zika and preventing mosquito bites. For additional information on DNREC’s mosquito control efforts, visit their Newsroom for the recent press release on the start of their annual spring woodland-pool spraying campaign.

The number of countries with travel warnings aimed at anyone planning to travel there continues to expand. Those who recently traveled, or plan to travel, to areas where Zika transmission is ongoing, including, but not limited to, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama, could be at risk for exposure.

For the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of countries, visit: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.

The two new Delaware Zika cases were confirmed in the Delaware Public Health Lab (DPHL), which spent the last four weeks developing the capability to perform Zika tests locally. Previously, Delaware had to send samples to the CDC for Zika testing, which resulted in delays due to the volume of samples sent to the CDC from throughout the nation. To develop the ability to test locally, DPH needed to acquire the sample tests, train staff, develop protocols, and confirm with the CDC the testing protocols were accurate. If initial testing in DPHL is inconclusive, samples will be sent to CDC for further testing.

The first Delaware Zika case, an adult female, was announced in February and a result of a mosquito bite during travel. Pregnancy was not an issue. According to the CDC, there are almost 260 travel-related Zika cases in the U.S., six of which were contracted sexually.

To report a potential illness or receive further guidance on testing, call the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 302-744-4990. For copies of flyers and more educational tools, see the below links.

For further information:
• CDC information on Zika: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/
• DPH Zika page: http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/zika.html
• Flyer for pregnant women in English: http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/zikaflyerforpregnantwomen.pdf
• Flyer for pregnant women in Spanish: http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/zikaflyerforpregnantwomensp.pdf
• DPH special bulletin on Zika: http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/dphbulletin1602zika.pdf
• Zika information in Spanish: http://www.cdc.gov/spanish/mediosdecomunicacion/comunicados/d_recomendaciones_viajeros_virus_del_zika_011516.html

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit delawarerelay.com. Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


Flu Activity Peaking Late in Delaware, Public Health Officials Say: “It’s Not too Late to Get your Flu Vaccine”

DOVER – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is encouraging everyone who has not yet been vaccinated against the flu to do so as soon as possible. DPH is currently reporting 92 new lab-confirmed flu cases for the week ending Feb. 27, which is more than double the number of cases from the week before. The numbers, which officials say could grow even higher by week’s end, don’t include the cases identified at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution (HRYCI).

At the beginning of February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported seeing influenza activity increasing across the country, and had received reports of severe respiratory illness among young- to middle-aged adults with the Influenza A H1N1pdm09 virus. Most of these patients were reportedly unvaccinated, according to the CDC. In the past, the H1N1pdm09 virus infection has caused severe illness in some children and young- and middle-aged adults.

The CDC is also urging clinicians to implement rapid antiviral treatment of very ill and high-risk suspect influenza patients without waiting for testing. Early antiviral treatment works best, but may be beneficial for hospitalized patients up to four to five days after symptoms begin. Early antiviral treatment can reduce influenza morbidity and mortality.

“It is important for everyone to understand that it is not too late to get your flu vaccine,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director. “The age range of those being most affected by this particular influenza strain are the least likely to get vaccinated and it is vital that they take steps to protect themselves from illness.”

Since October 2015, CDC has detected co-circulation of influenza A(H3N2), A(H1N1)pdm09, and influenza B viruses. However, H1N1pdm09 viruses have dominated since January. This year’s flu vaccine offers protection against all three of these strains of the virus. The CDC recently announced the vaccine is nearly 60 percent effective at preventing the flu.

As of Feb. 13, 2016, there were 100 total lab-confirmed cases of the flu in Delaware for the 2015 – 2016 flu season. That includes 56 in New Castle County, 24 in Kent County and 20 in Sussex County.

DPH urges all Delawareans 6 months of age and older who have not yet been vaccinated against the flu to get a vaccination as soon as possible. The flu is easy to transmit and you can get it from healthy – but unvaccinated – children and adults. The vaccine is readily available through medical providers, pharmacies, and some grocery stores as well as many State Service Centers. For a listing of State Service Centers providing vaccinations, visit dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html.

Flu vaccination reduces the risk of getting sick from the flu or spreading the disease to others. It is especially important that the following groups get flu shots: Pregnant women and their household contacts; caregivers and household contacts of children younger than 6 months, since those children are too young to receive the vaccine; seniors; those with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems; and health care providers.

Delawareans are encouraged to prevent infection by taking simple everyday measures such as washing hands, using hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes and staying at home when sick. These efforts help stop the spread of respiratory illnesses including flu.

Flu symptoms come on suddenly, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, and fatigue. Some people get complications including pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. Providers can prescribe antiviral medicines to make illness milder, hasten recovery, and prevent serious complications, hospitalizations, and even death.

Beginning in October each year, DPH monitors the occurrence of influenza-like illness in hospitals, selected long-term care facilities and medical clinics to track flu trends in the state. During the 2014-2015 flu season, there were 28 flu-related deaths and 2,390 confirmed cases of influenza in Delaware, a significant increase in activity from the prior flu season.

For more information on influenza prevention, diagnosis and treatment, call the Division of Public Health at 888-282-8672 or visit flu.delaware.gov.

Department of Correction (DOC) officials have implemented a series of infection control measures to contain the spread of the flu at HRYCI. The DOC began offering voluntary flu vaccinations in the fall and will continue to make vaccinations available to offenders and staff. Concerned families and friends of residents at HRYCI should contact Chelsea D. Hicks at 302-379-4048.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit delawarerelay.com. Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.