Vaccination is Your Best Protection for You and Your Loved Ones
BALTIMORE, MD (October 16, 2018) – The Maryland Department of Health announced today the first confirmed cases of the seasonal flu for the 2018-2019 influenza season. Two laboratory-confirmed cases of seasonal influenza have been identified in one adult and one child in the Central and Eastern Shore regions of Maryland. The confirmed flu strains are type A (H1) and Type B (Victoria).
Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that may lead to serious complications, hospitalization, or even death. The virus that causes influenza spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing, as well as through direct contact with infected people and contaminated surfaces or objects. Common symptoms include fever, body aches, fatigue, coughing, and sore throat. Symptoms usually begin one to four days after being exposed to the virus.
“The influenza vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family from becoming ill with influenza,” said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Fran Phillips, RN, MHA. “Getting vaccinated each year is important, because the strains of influenza that circulate change over time. This season, influenza vaccines have been updated to better match the circulating strains.”
Influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of six months. It is especially important for individuals who are at high risk for influenza-related complications and severe disease, including:
- Children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years old
- Persons 65 years of age and older
- Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum)
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- American Indians and Alaska Natives
- Persons of any age with chronic medical conditions
- Persons undergoing therapy, or with a condition that may weaken their immune systems
- Persons caring for someone in these groups to avoid spreading the disease to them. These persons include health care workers, household contacts of individuals at risk for complications from the flu, and daycare or school workers
The vaccine is widely available, and Maryland residents are urged to get protected now by contacting their health care provider, local health department, or neighborhood pharmacy and getting vaccinated against influenza.
If you believe you are ill with influenza:
- Contact your health care provider for management of flu symptoms or treatment of any complications
- Get rest and drink plenty of fluids
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wash your hands often
- Avoid crowded places like shopping malls or public transportation
- Avoid unnecessary visits to hospitals or other settings where people with weakened conditions may be at risk of getting your flu as they could be severely affected
- Stay home from work or school whenever possible to avoid spreading the flu to your friends and coworkers
For more information regarding the 2018-2019 updated influenza vaccines and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) vaccine recommendations, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2018-2019.htm.
Stay up-to-date on influenza activity in Maryland by visiting https://phpa.health.maryland.gov/influenza/fluwatch/ for weekly updates.
Maryland has an established online Maryland Resident Influenza Tracking Survey (MRITS). This tool is designed to enhance the state’s existing influenza surveillance by monitoring influenza-like illnesses among residents who might not seek medical care. Please volunteer! Sign up online at http://flusurvey.health.maryland.gov/ to receive an email each week with a link to our surveys where you can report any flu-like symptoms.
For more information about the seriousness of influenza and the benefits of vaccination, visit https://phpa.health.maryland.gov/influenza/ or http://www.cdc.gov/flu/ or http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/index.htm or call CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO.