(Washington, DC) Today, the District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) is encouraging District residents who have not been vaccinated for influenza (flu) to get their annual flu shot to prevent the continued spreading of the virus. The District is currently experiencing an increase in reported flu cases, with flu activity being sharply elevated within the past week. This is similar to what is being experienced by several states across the nation. It is anticipated, based on national trends, that significant flu activity will occur for many weeks to come.
“It is not too late for residents, especially young children, pregnant women, elderly individuals and those with chronic health conditions, to get the flu shot to reduce their risk for getting the virus,” said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Director, DOH. “As the flu season is likely to last a few more months, getting vaccinated now can still work as a protective measure for many people. Additionally, if you get the flu shot and still get sick, the vaccination will work to lessen symptoms and severity of the flu.”
Those who have not already been vaccinated for the flu should contact their primary care physician and/or health care provider to get their annual flu shot. Residents can also go to vaccinefinder.org to find a location to get vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone six months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine. Flu vaccines are important for everyone, but especially for certain people who are high risk or who are in close contact with high-risk people. These groups include:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than five years old, but especially children younger than two years old
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- People whose immune system is weakened and those with certain medical conditions, such as asthma, lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, or conditions affecting the nervous and immune system
- People who are extremely obese
- People who live or are employed in nursing homes or long- term care facilities
Symptoms of influenza can include fever or feeling feverish, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and tiredness. Some people, particularly children, may also have vomiting and diarrhea. More information about the flu is available here.
The flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu, however, risks can also be reduced by regular handwashing, covering mouths to cough, eating healthy foods and getting sufficient rest.