DPH Partners With Health Care and Community Partners to Launch Fight Flu DE — Enhanced Flu Vaccination Campaign

DOVER (Sept. 29, 2020) – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is partnering with health care, faith-based and community partners to launch an aggressive communications campaign to mobilize all Delawareans to get their flu vaccinations called ‘Fight Flu DE.’ Working to reach diverse audiences through influencers and with messaging that will motivate them to get the flu vaccine, the campaign integrates grassroots outreach with mass-media marketing strategies to make sure people know where they can get a flu vaccine regardless of insurance coverage.

While DPH has always been proactive in encouraging flu vaccinations, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a greater urgency for Delawareans to get vaccinated against influenza.

“This year it is more important than ever to get your flu vaccine, as we are dealing with uncertainties around how flu season will look this year with COVID-19 circulating at the same time,” said Governor John Carney. “While the flu vaccine will not prevent you from getting COVID, it has many important benefits. It will reduce your chance of getting the flu and flu-related complications, while saving critical health care resources to treat COVID patients.”

Delawareans are urged to think about the Big 4 locations where they can get their flu vaccines this year:
• Medical provider offices or community health clinics
• Pharmacies
• Community Flu Clinics
• DPH Clinics for uninsured and underinsured individuals

This week, DPH will hold three community flu clinics, two on Friday, Oct. 2 – one at the Gigante grocery store on Front Street (Route 14) in Milford from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and one at the New Castle Farmer’s Market on Route 13 in New Castle from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. DPH will hold a second clinic at the New Castle Farmer’s Market location on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., while Westside Family Healthcare will hold a free community flu clinic at its Bear facility in the Fox Run Shopping Center from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3. Beebe Healthcare is holding the following community flu clinics:

• September 29, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Milton CHEER Center, 24855 Broadkill Road, Milton
• October 1, 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Rehoboth Convention Center, 229 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth (walk-up and bike only)
• October 2, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Crossroads Church, 20684 State Forest Road, Georgetown (drive-through only)
• October 3, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Beebe South Coastal, 32750 Roxana Road, Frankford (drive-through only)

A list of community and DPH flu clinic sites can be found on flu.delaware.gov. In addition, the locations for flu vaccines can be found if you Google “CDC flu finder” and enter a ZIP code.

The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death by about half.

“Getting a flu vaccine is one of the most important things that every Delawarean, 6 months and older, can do to protect themselves from flu illness,” said Molly Magarik, Secretary for the Department of Health and Social Services. “It is critically important that persons over age 65 and those with underlying medical conditions of any kind get the vaccine as soon as possible.” Pregnant women, children under age 2 and African Americans and Hispanics who are more often impacted by chronic diseases such as lung and heart disease, obesity, and asthma are also at greater risk of flu illness.

“It’s important to get a flu vaccine especially in the African American and other minority communities because of our higher risk of illness,” said Henrietta Johnson Medical Center CMO, Dr. Yvette Gbemudu. “The flu virus and other viruses can affect us more strongly without proper protection. Even if you are infected with the flu after getting a flu vaccine, studies show that your response to it will be lessened because you got the flu shot. It reduces your risk of dying from the flu, which is possible because the virus is deadly.”

It takes about two weeks after receiving the flu vaccine for antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection to develop in the body, so it is important to get vaccinated as early as possible to give your body time to build immunity. Getting the flu vaccine now will also provide protection during the entire flu season.

“It will also be vitally important that Delawareans step up their efforts around wearing face coverings, social distancing, and washing or sanitizing their hands frequently, not only to protect against COVID-19, but also against flu in the coming months,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “It’s too early to know what impact these preventive measures may already be having in reducing the early spread of flu in our state, but it’s possible they may be the key to a milder flu season this year – but only if we stay vigilant in our efforts.”

In addition to these basic prevention measures, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and dispose of tissues immediately. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow. Droplets from a sneeze can travel up to six feet. Also avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Keep your distance from people who are coughing or sneezing.

Some signs and symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar including fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, chills and fatigue. Both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms to severe symptoms. Testing can help you determine which you have.

COVID-19 symptoms that are different from flu may include change in or loss of taste or smell. Also, flu symptoms generally come on more suddenly than COVID symptoms.

The following organizations have proudly partnered with DPH in the effort to significantly increase flu vaccinations this fall and into the winter: The Delaware Healthcare Association and its member hospital systems: Bayhealth, Beebe Healthcare, ChristianaCare, TidalHealth Nanticoke, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, St. Francis Healthcare and the Veterans Administration Medical Center; the Medical Society of Delaware; and the Federally Qualified Health Centers: Westside Family Healthcare, Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, and La Red Health Center.

“The annual influx of flu patients taxes hospital capacity. That’s a big problem during the pandemic,” said Wayne A. Smith, President & CEO of the Delaware Healthcare Association. “The best way to preserve hospital space is for everyone to get a flu shot.”

“While scientists are racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, the flu vaccine is readily available and can make all the difference in the fight against the flu, which kills tens of thousands of people each year. Now is the time to connect with your physician and get vaccinated,” said Joseph J. Straight, MD, President, Medical Society of Delaware.

“La Red Health Center (LRHC) is pleased to partner with the Delaware Division of Public Health in providing the flu vaccine at each of its Family Practice Sites located in Georgetown, Milford and Seaford,” said Marketing and Communications Director Kevin Loftus. “This flu season it is especially important to get the flu shot as soon as possible and LRHC encourages its patients and all residents of Sussex County to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity.”

During the 2019-2020 flu season, Delaware recorded 7,075 laboratory-confirmed flu cases. More than 362 Delawareans were hospitalized due to the flu and 11 people died from flu complications.

“Easy access to free or low-cost flu vaccines is critical to keeping our communities healthy, and ultimately, reducing the risk of severe flu symptoms that cause hospitalization,” said Tom Stephens, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Westside Family Healthcare. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to get a flu vaccine as severe complications from both illnesses can be life-threatening.”

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 temperature less than 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C), without the use of fever-reducing medications – for at least 24 hours. People with flu symptoms 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 they may decide to provide antiviral medications to help hasten recovery and prevent serious complications.
For more information about the flu and where to get vaccinated, visit flu.delaware.gov or call 1-800-282-8672.

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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 Delaware 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 is Now Confirmed Statewide; DPH Announces First Flu Cases in Kent and Sussex Counties for the 2019-2020 Season

DOVER  – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is reporting the state’s first laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in Kent and Sussex counties, for the 2019-2020 flu season. The Kent County case involves a 26-year-old female, while the Sussex County case involves a 7-year-old male. This brings the total number of flu cases this season to three. The first confirmed flu case for New Castle County was announced last week. There are two main types of influenza (flu) virus – types A and B – that routinely spread in people and are responsible for seasonal flu outbreaks each year. All three lab-confirmed influenza cases were type B.

“With flu cases confirmed in all three counties, we are urging Delawareans not to delay getting their flu vaccine,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Vaccination is not just about protecting yourself, it’s also about protecting your children who are quite vulnerable to effects of the flu, other family members and those with whom you work.” Vaccinations not only prevent people from getting the flu, but they can reduce the severity of flu illness and prevent visits to the doctor, clinic, emergency room and hospitalizations. Vaccinated people also have less chance of missing family, school and work events due to influenza illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last week concerning national numbers that show only about half (54%) of pregnant women surveyed report getting a flu vaccine either before or during pregnancy. When pregnant women are vaccinated they pass on antibodies to the fetus that provide protection after birth, during the time babies are too young to be vaccinated. Newborns who get influenza or whooping cough are at high risk of hospitalization and death. Additionally, pregnant women have more than double the risk of hospitalization compared to non-pregnant women of childbearing age if they get influenza. The CDC and DPH recommend that expectant mothers be up-to-date with recommended vaccinations as part of their routine prenatal care.

The flu vaccine is recommended for Delawareans 6 months of age and older. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection to develop in the body, it is important to get vaccinated as early as possible to give your body time to build immunity. DPH will offer various flu clinics throughout the season. A schedule can be found at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html. Flu vaccines also are offered through physician offices, many pharmacies and some grocery stores. To locate where flu vaccines near you are being offered, Google “CDC flu finder” and enter a ZIP code.

Getting the flu vaccine now also will provide protection during the entire flu season. During the 2018-2019 flu season, Delaware recorded 6,387 laboratory-confirmed flu cases. More than 1,000 Delawareans were hospitalized due to the flu and 24 people died from flu complications.

The flu is easy to transmit and you can get it even from seemingly healthy, but unvaccinated, children and adults. Children, older adults, pregnant women and those who have chronic underlying medical conditions are most at-risk for complications from the flu and are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated now.

In addition to getting an annual flu vaccine, Delawareans can prevent the spread of the flu and other respiratory illness with good hygiene: Wash 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 a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow. Droplets from a sneeze can travel up to six feet. Also avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Keep your distance from people who are coughing or sneezing.

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. 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.

People with flu symptoms 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 they 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.

For more information about the flu and where to get vaccinated, visit flu.delaware.gov or call 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 Delaware 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.


Delaware Public Health Officials Confirm First Flu Case of the 2019-2020 Season

DOVER – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is announcing the state’s first laboratory-confirmed case of influenza for the 2019-2020 flu season. The case, which also marks Delaware’s first pediatric case of the season, involves an 8-year-old from New Castle County.

“The flu is here,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Now that we have lab-confirmation of our first case, we hope this further motivates individuals who have not yet gotten their annual flu shot to do so right away. Getting a flu shot is quick, easy, and not only protects you, but also those around you. Most of us frequently spend time around someone who is likely to have more severe consequences from influenza. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones.”

The flu vaccine is recommended for Delawareans 6 months of age and older. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection to develop in the body, it is important to get vaccinated as early as possible to give your body time to build immunity. Getting the flu vaccine now will also provide protection during the entire flu season. During the 2018-2019 flu season, Delaware recorded 6,387 laboratory-confirmed flu cases. More than 1,000 Delawareans were hospitalized due to the flu and 24 people died from flu complications.

Governor John Carney rolled up his sleeve and received his flu shot during Tuesday’s Drive-Thru Flu Clinic, held by DPH on the main campus of the DelDOT Administrative Building in Dover. He asked Delawareans to get their flu vaccines early, preferably by the end of October, to protect against influenza and its complications. 

“Getting an annual flu vaccine is the best thing you can do to keep from getting and spreading the flu, and from missing work, school, and important family events,” said Governor Carney. “This is something you can do to protect your own health as well as the health of your grandparents, your children, co-workers or friends.”

Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long also drove through in her vehicle to get her flu vaccine. She reminded everyone that getting the flu vaccine is important for people of all ages, and not just those in high-risk groups such as those who are older or with compromised immune systems. She said the vaccine is also the best way to prevent not only flu illness, but also serious flu complications that may lead to hospitalization or death.

“The flu is unpredictable,” said Lt. Governor Hall-Long. “That’s why it’s important to get vaccinated every year, since we never know what kind of flu season we will see. Remember that a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Your arm may feel achy where the vaccine was given, but that usually only lasts one or two days and is far less painful than a bout with the flu.”

DPH nurses, joined by nurses from the Division’s partners at Bayhealth and the Delaware Medical Reserve Corps, administered free intramuscular flu vaccines to drivers, their passengers and even pedestrians age 9 years and older. By noon, 615 vaccinations had been administered during the drive-thru clinic. In addition, DPH administered 151 vaccinations during its walk-up flu clinic held at Porter State Service Center in Wilmington on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. The clinics are DPH’s two primary public events. DPH will also offer various other flu clinics throughout the season. A schedule can be found at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html. Flu vaccines are also offered through physician offices, many pharmacies and some grocery stores. To locate where flu vaccines near you are being offered, Google “CDC flu finder” and enter a ZIP code.

The flu is easy to transmit and you can get it even from seemingly healthy, but unvaccinated, children and adults. Children, older adults, and those who have chronic underlying medical conditions are most at-risk for complications from the flu and are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated now.

In addition to getting an annual flu shot, Delawareans can prevent the spread of the flu and other respiratory illness with good hygiene: Wash 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 a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow. Droplets from a sneeze can travel up to six feet. Also avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Keep your distance from people who are coughing or sneezing.

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. 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.

People with flu symptoms 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 they 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.

For more information about the flu and where to get vaccinated, visit flu.delaware.gov or call 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 Delaware 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.


DPH Kicks Off 2019-2020 Flu Season with Free Vaccination Clinics

DOVER – The 2019-2020 flu season has officially arrived, and to kick off the state’s influenza prevention efforts, the Division of Public Health (DPH) will hold two free flu vaccination clinics for the public.

On Friday, Oct. 4. 2019, DPH will hold a free flu clinic at the Porter State Service Center, 511 W. 8th St., Wilmington, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The first 200 people to get their flu vaccines will receive a free gift card.

On Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, DPH will hold a free drive-thru flu clinic at the DelDOT Administration Building, 800 S. Bay Road, Dover, from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. or until vaccines run out. Eagle 97.7 and Cool 101.3 will hold live broadcasts. Both clinics will be held rain or shine. The flu clinics are open to individuals nine years of age and older.

“Now is the time to get your annual flu shot,” said Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “Vaccinations not only prevent people from getting the flu, but they also can reduce the severity of flu illness and prevent visits to the doctor, clinic, emergency room and hospitalizations. Vaccinated people have less chance of missing family, school and work events due to influenza illness.”

The flu vaccine is recommended for Delawareans 6 months of age and older. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection to develop in the body, it is important to get vaccinated as early as possible to give your body time to build immunity. Getting the flu vaccine now will also provide protection during the entire flu season. During the 2018-2019 flu season, Delaware recorded 6,387 laboratory-confirmed flu cases. More than 1,000 Delawareans were hospitalized due to the flu and 24 people died from flu complications.

“The flu is unpredictable,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Getting your annual flu vaccine is the best, most effective thing you can do to keep from getting the flu, and from spreading it to family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. The flu is highly contagious and can even be deadly so we urge you to get your flu shot early in the flu season.”

The flu is easy to transmit and you can get it even from seemingly healthy, but unvaccinated, children and adults. Children, older adults, and those who have chronic underlying medical conditions are most at-risk for complications from the flu and are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated now.

DPH also will offer other flu clinics throughout the season. A schedule can be found at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html. In addition, flu vaccines are offered through physician offices, many pharmacies and some grocery stores. To locate where flu vaccines near you are being offered, Google “CDC flu finder” and enter a ZIP code.

In addition to getting an annual flu shot, Delawareans can prevent the spread of the flu and other respiratory illness with good hygiene: Wash 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 a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow. Droplets from a sneeze can travel up to six feet. Also avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Keep your distance from people who are coughing or sneezing.

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. 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 temperature less than 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C), without the use of fever-reducing medications – for at least 24 hours.

People with flu symptoms 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 they 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.

For more information about the flu and where to get vaccinated, visit flu.delaware.gov or call 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 Delaware 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.


DPH Announces Three Additional Flu-Related Deaths

DOVER  — The number of laboratory-confirmed flu cases continues to increase in Delaware, and the Division of Public Health (DPH) is announcing three recent flu-related deaths, bringing the total number of deaths for the 2018-2019 season thus far to eight. The most recent victim is an 83-year-old man from New Castle County, with underlying health conditions, who passed away this week. Additionally, last week, a 41-year-old New Castle County woman with suspected underlying health complications and a 74-year-old Sussex County woman with multiple underlying health conditions passed away due to complications from the flu. Of the eight individuals who have passed away this season, they range in age from 41 to 83. Four persons were from Sussex County, one was from Kent County and three were from New Castle County. All were infected with Influenza A.

The Division of Public Health continues to encourage residents to get their flu vaccine if they have not done so. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that influenza is widespread in most of the country and expects significant flu activity to continue for weeks. It is not too late to get a flu vaccine.

As of Jan. 19, 2019, the most recent date for which statistics are available, there have been 1,268 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in Delaware. This number reflects only the number of lab-confirmed cases; the actual number of cases circulating statewide is likely much higher. Additionally, 224 people have been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms since the start of the flu season. These numbers are similar to the 2017-2018 season when at the same time, there were 1,289 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza and 297 hospitalizations.

“We are deeply saddened to learn about the most recent Delawareans who have lost their lives as a result of the influenza virus this season,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “It is important that we all take precautions to prevent catching and spreading the flu. The first and best way to protect yourself from the flu is by getting your annual flu vaccine and making sure everyone in your family has received it, as well. The flu vaccine protects against up to four strains of the virus and can help lessen the severity of symptoms if you do become sick.”

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 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 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. Walk-ins welcome on Thursdays only from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

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 to getting a flu vaccine and taking antiviral medication, DPH recommends the following:
• 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.
• Stay home if you are sick until you are free of fever for 24 hours – 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.

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.

For more information about flu surveillance in Delaware, read the weekly flu report at dhss.delaware.gov/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.