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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: October 13, 2014


New Castle, DE - October 10, 201 - Governor Jack Markell and Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Rita Landgraf received their annual flu shots today at a public flu clinic held at the New Castle Farmers Market by the Division of Public Health (DPH). Governor Markell asked all Delawareans to get a flu shot to best protect against illness during the 2014-2015 flu season.

"We have the tools to protect our families, co-workers, and communities from this illness," Governor Markell said. "It's important that Delawareans know about the many opportunities like today's flu clinic where vaccinations are readily available. We can limit the spread of the flu this season if more people get their shots and get them early."

DPH continues to work to increase the number of people vaccinated, and for Delawareans to get vaccinated early in the flu season. During Delaware's 2013-2014 flu season, there were 1,842 confirmed cases of influenza with six flu-related deaths. The largest portion of flu cases, 33 percent, were reported in the 25-49 age group. Of the 428 hospitalizations due to the flu and flu-associated causes like pneumonia, the largest portion, 27 percent, were in the 50-64 age group.

"Since some flu seasons are severe, every Delawarean should prepare now by getting an annual flu vaccination," Secretary Landgraf said. "The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports an annual average of 23,600 deaths in the United States due to influenza and flu-associated causes such as pneumonia."

"We want Delawareans to be protected before the flu season begins so they don't miss work, school or other activities due to flu illness, and to protect others, especially those who are the most vulnerable to severe consequences including seniors, those with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women and young children," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH Director. "It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop and provide protection against the flu."

DPH follows the CDC's recommendation that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. Seasonal flu activity commonly peaks in the United States between December and February.

DPH's "Get It" outreach campaign reminds Delawareans, especially healthy 19-49 year olds - to get their annual flu shot. This age group is less likely to get a flu vaccination and, as caregivers, has an increased potential to transmit the disease. Influenza affects everyone, particularly children, seniors, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions.

DHSS asks Delawareans to first seek flu vaccine from their health provider. DPH flu clinics are available for those who do not have a doctor, who cannot pay for the vaccine because they are uninsured, or who do not have insurance that covers the vaccine. Flu vaccinations are also available through most area pharmacies, grocery stores, and college health centers.

DPH's flu clinic schedule is posted at dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html. Though the vaccinations are free, donations and Medicaid are accepted. DPH clinics offer the intramuscular flu vaccine for ages 9 years and above. Children ages 6 months to 8 years who receive the flu vaccine for the first time need two doses, with the second dose given at least 28 days after the first dose.

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, drink almost no sugary beverages.

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.