As flu season intensifies here in Connecticut, the Norwalk Health Department urges you to get your flu shot and protect yourself and your family against the flu. The vaccine protects against seasonal and H1N1 flu, and everyone older than 6 months is encouraged to be vaccinated. In addition to getting your flu shot, you can take other steps to stay healthy this year:
- Wash your hands regularly. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Seek care early. See your healthcare provider immediately if you develop flu symptoms. Antiviral medications can help if taken early in the illness.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.
- Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
If you haven’t yet received a flu shot, you can get your flu vaccine at the Health Department Thursday, January 18, from 2 – 4 pm or on any Tuesday, 1 – 3 pm, while supplies last. No appointment is necessary. Flu shots at the Health Department are free if you have Medicare Part B, Medicaid, Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, ConnectiCare, and United. Please bring all your insurance cards with you. Otherwise, standard flu shots cost $25 per person, and high-dose shots (an option for patients 65 and older) cost $50.
For millions of people every season, the flu can mean a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed. However, few people realize that more than 200,000 people are actually hospitalized in the United States from flu-related complications such as pneumonia each year.
Anyone can get the flu, but some people are especially urged to protect themselves from the flu because they are at increased risk for serious flu-related complications, including those people with certain medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease), people 65 years and older, pregnant women, young children, and anyone who lives with or cares for these higher risk individuals.
If you have a question about the flu or the flu vaccine, call your physician. For other questions about getting your flu shot, please call the Norwalk Health Department at (203) 854-7776.