DPH Reminds Delawareans to Get Their Flu Vaccines as it Announces First Flu-Related Deaths of 2019-2020 Season

DOVER – The Division of Public Health (DPH) is reminding Delawareans to protect themselves and those around them this influenza season by getting vaccinated as DPH announces the first two flu-related deaths of the 2019-2020 flu season. A 68-year-old woman infected with influenza A, and a 65-year-old man infected with influenza B, passed away this week as a result of complications from the flu. Both individuals were Sussex County residents and both had underlying health conditions.

As of Dec. 28, 2019, the most recent date for which flu statistics are available, there have been 1,083 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu in Delaware. This number reflects only the number of lab-confirmed cases; the actual number of cases circulating statewide is likely much higher as not all people with the flu seek treatment, and many cases are diagnosed through rapid test kits in a provider’s office versus a lab. In addition, 65 people have been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms since the start of the flu season. During the week of Dec. 22 to Dec. 28, 2019, there were 470 new lab-confirmed cases, the highest increase in a single week since the start of the flu season on October 1, 2019. During the same time last year, there was a total of 681 lab-confirmed cases of flu statewide, including 140 hospitalizations.

“The deaths of these two Delawareans is a tragic reminder of how dangerous the flu can be, particularly to individuals who already have weakened immune systems,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the deceased, as well as those still battling the flu. We continue to encourage Delawareans to get their flu vaccines and make sure everyone in their family gets theirs, too. The vaccine will lower your likelihood of getting the flu and can lessen the severity of your symptoms if you do catch it. You should also be sure to take any antiviral medicines that your primary care provider prescribes.”

In addition to getting a flu vaccine and taking antiviral medication as directed, DPH recommends that you:
• Practice social distancing by keeping your distance from well people if you have cold or flu-like symptoms.
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and dispose of tissues immediately; if no tissue is available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow.

Social distancing means that those sick with the flu should stay home from work, school, and other gatherings and not return until they have been free of fever – with a temperature less than 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C) without the use of fever-reducing medications – for at least 24 hours. They should avoid close contact with well people in the household and stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other clear liquids. Over-the-counter medicines can provide symptom relief, but if you suspect you have influenza, call your primary care provider as he or she may decide to provide antiviral medications to help hasten recovery and prevent serious complications. This is particularly important for those who feel very sick, are pregnant or have chronic medical conditions.

Flu symptoms come on suddenly, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, chills and fatigue. Some people get complications including pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. People with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes and asthma are more susceptible to catching the flu.

Flu vaccines are still available at many pharmacies and grocery stores, and through primary care physicians and some specialists. To find participating stores, enter your ZIP code in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s flu vaccine finder at www.cdc.gov/flu/. Flu shots continue to be available at DPH clinics located within the Department of Health and Social Services’ State Service Centers:
• Porter State Service Center, 509 W. Eighth St., Wilmington. For all ages 9 and up. Walk-ins are welcome Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
• Hudson State Service Center, 501 Ogletown Road, Newark. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Call 302-283-7587 (choose Option 2) to make an appointment Monday through Friday.
• Williams State Service Center, 805 River Road, Dover. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Call 302-857-5140 to make an appointment Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
• Milford State Service Center – Riverwalk, 253 N.E. Front St., Milford. For ages 9 years and older. Mondays and Fridays. Walk-ins are accepted on Mondays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. By appointment only on Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call 302-424-7130 to make an appointment.
• Anna C. Shipley State Service Center, 350 Virginia Ave., Seaford. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Walk-ins welcome Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
• Adams State Service Center, 544 S. Bedford St., Georgetown. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Walk-ins welcome on Mondays only from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

For more information about the flu, visit flu.delaware.gov/ or call DPH at 1-800-282-8672.

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.

The Department of 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 Deaths Continue to Rise in Delaware; DPH Reminds Residents to Protect Themselves

DOVER (March 1, 2019) — Although the overall number of laboratory-confirmed flu cases in Delaware this flu season remains lower than the total number of cases reported at the same time last year, the number of flu-related deaths has continued to increase during the 2018-2019 flu season.

As of February 16, 2019, the most recent date for which data is available, the Division of Public Health (DPH) has confirmed 3,264 flu cases in Delaware during the 2018-2019 season, down significantly from the 2017-2018 season when there were 5,758 confirmed flu cases reported by that time last year. However, DPH has been notified of 16 flu-related deaths so far this season, currently making it the third highest season for flu-related fatalities in the last decade. There were 35 flu-related deaths reported during the 2017-2018 season and 28 during the 2014-2015 season. The most recent death, which occurred this week, involved a 90-year-old Sussex County man who was infected with Influenza A and had multiple underlying health conditions. All 16 of the individuals who passed away this flu season were infected with influenza A and all had underlying health conditions or suspected health complications. The individuals have ranged in age from 41 to 90 years old. Four were New Castle County residents, six were Kent County residents, and six were Sussex County residents. Nine of the individuals were women and seven were men.
The risk for flu-related deaths is greatly increased in the very young, older individuals, and those of any age who have underlying health conditions. DPH continues to remind the public that there are steps they can take to prevent the spread of the flu. It is important for older individuals with underlying health conditions not only to be vaccinated, but also to limit contact with anyone who may be sick with influenza, and to contact their health care provider as soon as they become ill. Also, family, friends, and caregivers of older individuals with underlying health conditions should be vaccinated and arrange for alternative care, if possible, if they become sick with influenza.
DPH also recommends that individuals with chronic diseases monitor and manage their conditions, as non-compliance with physician’s recommendations can increase the risk for infection and complications. This includes maintaining appointments with their health care provider, taking medications as prescribed, and following diet and exercise recommendations from their doctor. Additionally, individuals who smoke and who are ready to stop using tobacco are encouraged to call the Delaware Quitline at 1-866-409-1858.

“We express our condolences to the family and friends of those who have passed away due to flu complications,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “The high number of flu deaths in Delaware is a somber reminder of how serious the flu can be and that we must take all precautions to protect ourselves and our community from this terrible disease. The flu is expected to continue circulating for several more weeks, therefore, we strongly encourage everyone to continue practicing important preventive measures to fight the flu, including getting a flu vaccine if you have not yet done so.” While it may seem late in the flu season to some, flu germs can spread well into the summer months. The flu vaccine takes up to two weeks to take full effect, so anyone who has not yet received the vaccine should make an effort to get one as soon as possible.

In addition, DPH encourages Delawareans to take everyday steps to prevent the spread of the flu:
• Practice social distancing if you have cold or flu-like symptoms.
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
• Cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue, and dispose of tissues immediately; if no tissue is available, sneeze or cough into your inner elbow.
• Take medications as prescribed.
Social distancing means that those sick with the flu should stay home from work, school, and other gatherings and not return until they have been free of fever – with a temperature of less than 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C) without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours. They should avoid close contact with well people in the household, and stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other clear liquids. Over-the-counter medicines can provide symptom relief, but if you suspect you have influenza, call your doctor as he or she may decide to provide antiviral medications to help hasten recovery and prevent serious complications. This is particularly important for those who feel very sick, are pregnant or have chronic medical conditions. Unlike colds, which develop gradually, flu symptoms come on suddenly, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, chills and fatigue. Some people get complications including pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections. People with pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes and asthma are more susceptible to catching the flu.

Flu vaccines are still available at State Service Centers, primary care providers and specialists, pharmacies, and some grocery stores. To find participating stores, enter your zip code in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) flu vaccine finder at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/. For more information about the flu, visit flu.delaware.gov/ or call DPH at 1-800-282-8672. The CDC recommends use of any licensed, age-appropriate influenza vaccine, including inactivated influenza vaccine [IIV], recombinant influenza vaccine [RIV], or live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV). If you have questions about which vaccine is best for you, talk to your doctor or other health care professional.
Flu shots are still available at DPH clinics located within the State Service Centers:
• Porter State Service Center, 509 W. Eighth St., Wilmington. For all ages 9 and up. Walk-ins are welcome Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
• Hudson State Service Center, 501 Ogletown Road, Newark. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Call 302-283-7587 (choose Option 2) to make an appointment Monday through Friday.
• Williams State Service Center, 805 River Road, Dover. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Call 302-857-5140 to make an appointment Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
• Milford State Service Center – Riverwalk, 253 N.E. Front St., Milford. For ages 9 years and older. Call 302-424-7130 to make an appointment on Mondays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
• Anna C. Shipley State Service Center, 350 Virginia Ave., Seaford. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Walk-ins welcome Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For information, call 302-628-6772.
• Adams State Service Center, 544 S. Bedford St., Georgetown. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Call 302-515-3220 to make an appointment on Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
For more information about flu surveillance in Delaware, read the weekly flu report at dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/epi/influenzawkly.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 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.


DPH Announces New Flu-Related Death as Numbers of Statewide Cases Continue to Drop

Flu season sign on a paper and glasses.

DOVER — Statewide flu totals in Delaware decreased for the third week in a row, according to the Division of Public Health (DPH). During the week ending March 10, DPH reports 290 laboratory-confirmed flu cases, down from the prior week’s total of 381 confirmed cases. The latest numbers increase the total number of influenza cases for the season to 7,433. DPH is also reporting one additional flu-related death, a 62-year-old female from New Castle County with multiple underlying health conditions, bringing the number of flu-related deaths for the 2017-2018 flu season to 31.

“We’ve unfortunately lost another Delawarean to the flu this season and we express our condolences to her family,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Although flu cases have dropped again, that is not a reason to take flu lightly. Flu germs can circulate even into the summer months, so it is crucial to continue taking preventive measures against influenza, such as social distancing and handwashing.”

Social distancing means that if you are sick, do not go to school, work, or other social functions until you are fever-free (temperature less than 100 degrees F; 37.8 degrees C) for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication. Wash your hands frequently and sneeze or cough into a tissue which you immediately dispose of. If you don’t have a tissue available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow.

DPH emphasizes the importance of calling your primary care provider at the first sign of illness and taking antivirals, as directed, if prescribed. You should go to either your physician or a walk-in clinic rather than the emergency room when symptoms are non-life threatening. People who are extremely ill with symptoms such as trouble breathing, bluish skin color, fever with a rash, dizziness, or severe or persistent vomiting should seek out immediate medical help.

While the overall number of flu cases have gone down, DPH reminds Delawareans that as long as the flu virus is circulating in the community, there is still time to get a flu shot. DPH offers ongoing free flu shots at five State Service Centers. For more information about free flu clinics including dates and times, visit http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html. To shorten your wait time, you can complete the vaccination form found at the bottom of the webpage and bring it with you.

For more information about flu surveillance in Delaware, read the weekly flu report at http://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/epi/influenzawkly.html. For general information about the flu, visit flu.Delaware.gov.

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.


Flu Deaths Hit All-Time High; Weekly Case Numbers Continue to Drop

graphic image of woman blowing her nose while text reads "Flu Got You Down. Call Out Sick. Your co-workers Don't want Your Germs."DOVER — The Division of Public Health (DPH) is reporting two more flu-related deaths that occurred during the last two weeks of February, bringing the 2017-2018 season death total to 30. This number breaks the previous single-season record of 28 flu-related deaths, set in 2014-2015. The deceased were both females, 83 and 84 years old, from New Castle and Kent counties, respectively. Both had multiple underlying health conditions.

The total number of flu cases in Delaware for the season is now at 7,071, also breaking the previous record of 4,554, set in the 2016-2017 season. These numbers only include laboratory-confirmed flu cases and the actual number of flu cases in the state is likely much higher. While overall numbers are at an all-time high, the number of weekly cases has dropped for the second week in a row. There were 381 lab-confirmed flu cases for the week ending March 3, the lowest number of confirmed flu cases in a week since the week ending January 20 when there were 375 confirmed cases. Hospitals and walk-in health clinics are also reporting a drop in patients with influenza-like illnesses.

“We are terribly saddened to learn of even more deaths this flu season,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We’ve never seen a flu season this severe before and hope to never see one again. It’s important for everyone to remember that flu continues to circulate in Delaware, and to keep practicing vital prevention measures such as social distancing and frequent hand washing.”

Social distancing means that if you are sick, do not go to school, work, or other social functions until you are fever-free (temperature less than 100 degrees F; 37.8 degrees C) for at least 24 hours without fever-reducing medication. You should wash your hands frequently and sneeze or cough into a tissue which you immediately dispose of. If you don’t have a tissue available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow.

DPH continues to emphasize the importance of calling your primary care provider at the first sign of illness, and taking antivirals if prescribed. Delawareans are reminded to first go to either your physician or a walk-in clinic rather than the emergency room when symptoms are non-life threatening. People who are extremely ill with symptoms such as trouble breathing, bluish skin color, fever with a rash, dizziness, or severe or persistent vomiting should seek out immediate medical help.

Although the overall number of flu cases have gone down, DPH reminds Delawareans that as long as the flu virus is circulating in the community, there is still time to get a flu shot. DPH will be offering free flu vaccines on March 13, 2018, at the Pyle State Service Center, 34314 Pyle Center Road, Frankford, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. DPH also offers ongoing free flu shots at five State Service Centers. For more information about free flu clinics, visit http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html. To shorten your wait time, you can complete the vaccination form found at the bottom of the webpage and bring it with you.

For more information about flu surveillance in Delaware, read the weekly flu report at http://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/epi/influenzawkly.html. For general information about the flu, visit http://flu.Delaware.gov.

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.