CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Health Officials at the Department of Health and Human Resources are reminding West Virginia residents that now is the time to be vaccinated against seasonal flu as winter approaches. Approximately 5-20% of U.S. residents get the flu each year contributing to as many as 200,000 hospitalizations and thousands of deaths in a severe flu season. Seasonal flu is unpredictable but historically peaks in West Virginia in January or February of each year.
"The flu is highly contagious," said Dr. Letitia Tierney, Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health and State Health Officer. "Adults and children should consider getting the flu vaccine to help protect themselves from catching the flu. It takes about two weeks after vaccination to provide protection against the flu. In the meantime, you are still at risk for getting the flu. That's why it is better to get vaccinated early in the fall, before the flu season gets under way."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that if you get the flu vaccine, you are 60% less likely to need treatment for the flu by a healthcare provider. Getting the vaccine has been shown to offer substantial other benefits including reducing illness, antibiotic use, time lost from work, hospitalizations, and most importantly deaths.
Tierney said most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five-to-seven days after symptoms develop. "Some people believe that by getting the flu shot, they will become sick but that is not the case," said Tierney. "Let me be clear, it’s impossible to get the flu from the flu shot, because it’s a killed virus."
Flu vaccine is available in the traditional flu shot that is approved for anyone 6 months of age and older. Residents should talk to their health care provider about flu vaccination concerns if they have a severe allergy to chicken eggs, a history of severe reaction to a flu vaccination, a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever or a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome (a severe paralytic illness, also called GBS). Nasal spray flu vaccine also is available but is a live attenuated flu vaccine that is approved for healthy people between the ages of 2-49, except pregnant women.