Baltimore, MD—The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today launched a new public service announcement urging Marylanders to get their annual flu shots, as flu season moves into full swing. In the new PSA, MDH also encourages eligible Marylanders to consider getting a COVID-19 booster at the same time.
“The best way to protect yourself, family and friends against the flu is to get your flu vaccination and get it now,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “You should get a flu shot, regardless of whether you’ve received the COVID vaccination. If you are not vaccinated yet against COVID or if you need a booster shot, you can safely get the flu and COVID shots at the same time.”
Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that spreads through coughing or sneezing, as well as through contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces and objects. Common symptoms include fever, body aches, fatigue, coughing and sore throat. Symptoms usually begin one to four days after being exposed.
The symptoms of flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses can be similar and people can be infected with both flu and COVID-19 at the same time. Testing is necessary to confirm a diagnosis.
“While last year’s flu season was unusually mild, we must be prepared for increased flu activity this year, especially as some COVID-19 prevention measures have decreased,” said MDH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan. “We should use every method at our disposal to help keep both flu and COVID at bay—including masking, social distancing, handwashing and of course, getting vaccinated.”
The flu vaccine is recommended for all Marylanders who are six months of age and older. Although most flu cases are mild and most people recover with few or no complications, the flu can pose a serious risk for children younger than 5, adults 65 and older, pregnant women and individuals with underlying medical conditions or compromised immune systems. It is especially important for those who are at high risk for flu-related complications to get vaccinated.
If you think you have the flu:
- Contact your health care provider to discuss testing and to manage symptoms or complications
- Stay home from work or school to avoid spreading illness
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wash your hands often
- Remember that the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 can be similar and only testing can distinguish between these and other respiratory viruses
Flu surveillance data is reported weekly throughout the annual flu season, from the first week in October through the second week in May. For the 2021-2022 flu season, MDH has already identified six laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza, subtyped as influenza A (H3). This year’s flu vaccine covers both influenza A and B.
To view Maryland’s flu surveillance data dashboard, visit health.maryland.gov/flu-dashboard. The dashboard is updated weekly on Friday evenings.
For more information about MDH’s flu surveillance activity, including seasonal flu summaries from 2011-2019, visit: https://health.maryland.gov/phpa/influenza/fluwatch/Pages/Index.aspx