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Health officials urge getting flu vaccine as season intensifies


Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Health officials announced that as of Dec. 7, there have been 5,036 laboratory-confirmed flu cases and two flu-associated deaths statewide. As flu season intensifies, the department urges Pennsylvanians to get their flu vaccine today if they have not already done so.

“Flu cases are increasing significantly as we had an over 2,000 case increase in just one week,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “We are concerned with the growing number of cases and want to remind Pennsylvanians to take preventative measures, including getting a flu vaccine to protect themselves, their family and communities from the flu this season.”

Flu activity is high across the commonwealth. There are flu cases in 65 of the 67 counties. Influenza A and B have been identified by laboratory testing. Influenza-Like Illness (ILI), experiencing symptoms of fever and cough or sore throat, has increased slightly since last week. While flu seasons vary and more people are getting tested more frequently as COVID-19 symptoms can be like flu symptoms, this week’s report is higher than this same week last year and even higher when compared to this same week in 2019. At this time, it is still below the state epidemic threshold. There have been two deaths, both in the 65+ age group, reported in Pennsylvania during the current flu season thus far.

This week marks National Influenza Vaccination Week, a reminder of the importance of flu vaccination in prevention of flu complications and deaths.

“If you have not already gotten your flu vaccine this season, please do so right away,” Deputy Secretary of Health Preparedness and Community Protection Ray Barishansky said. “We know that people who get the flu after being vaccinated have less severe symptoms and are not sick for as long as those who do not get vaccinated. We also know that the COVID-19 vaccines do not protect you from getting the flu. So, while we have been encouraging everyone to get COVID-19 vaccines, you still also need to get   your flu vaccine.”

The vaccines are available as a flu shot for anyone six months or older and as a flu shot or nasal spray for anyone two or older. Flu vaccines are available at your doctor’s office, pharmacy, local walk-in clinic or grocery store. COVID-19 and flu vaccines can be received at the same time. For a list of flu vaccination clinics in Pennsylvania, click here.

Flu is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. It attacks the nose, throat and lungs and may include the following symptoms:

·         Fever;

·         Headache;

·         Tiredness;

·         Dry cough;

·         Sore throat;

·         Nasal congestion; and

·         Body aches.

“Keeping Pennsylvanians safe and healthy remains our number one concern,” said Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson. “It is extremely important that in addition to getting vaccinated, Pennsylvanians practice healthy habits such as covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, frequently washing your hands, and remembering to disinfect commonly touched objects, including door knobs, light switches, countertops, cell phones and computers. You can also take advantage of the COVID Alert PA app to monitor your flu and COVID-19 symptoms since they are similar.

“If you do become sick with the flu, it is imperative that you stay home. If you are at risk for developing serious complications from the flu, or feel extremely ill, you should see a medical professional immediately to determine your need for testing or isolation.”

For more information on the 2021-2022 flu season, click here.

Additional information on how to stay healthy and prevent the spread of flu and COVID-19 can be found on the Department of Health’s websiteFacebook, and Twitter.