FLU IS NOW CONFIRMED STATEWIDE; DPH ANNOUNCES FIRST FLU CASES IN KENT AND SUSSEX COUNTIES FOR THE 2019-2020 SEASON

DOVER (Oct. 14, 2019) – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is reporting the state’s first laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in Kent and Sussex counties, for the 2019-2020 flu season. The Kent County case involves a 26-year-old female, while the Sussex County case involves a 7-year-old male. This brings the total number of flu cases this season to three. The first confirmed flu case for New Castle County was announced last week. There are two main types of influenza (flu) virus – types A and B – that routinely spread in people and are responsible for seasonal flu outbreaks each year. All three lab-confirmed influenza cases were type B.

 

“With flu cases confirmed in all three counties, we are urging Delawareans not to delay getting their flu vaccine,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Vaccination is not just about protecting yourself, it’s also about protecting your children who are quite vulnerable to effects of the flu, other family members and those with whom you work.” Vaccinations not only prevent people from getting the flu, but they can reduce the severity of flu illness and prevent visits to the doctor, clinic, emergency room and hospitalizations. Vaccinated people also have less chance of missing family, school and work events due to influenza illness.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last week concerning national numbers that show only about half (54%) of pregnant women surveyed report getting a flu vaccine either before or during pregnancy.  When pregnant women are vaccinated they pass on antibodies to the fetus that provide protection after birth, during the time babies are too young to be vaccinated. Newborns who get influenza or whooping cough are at high risk of hospitalization and death. Additionally, pregnant women have more than double the risk of hospitalization compared to non-pregnant women of childbearing age if they get influenza. The CDC and DPH recommend that expectant mothers be up-to-date with recommended vaccinations as part of their routine prenatal care.

 

The flu vaccine is recommended for Delawareans 6 months of age and older. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against influenza virus infection to develop in the body, it is important to get vaccinated as early as possible to give your body time to build immunity. DPH will offer various flu clinics throughout the season. A schedule can be found at https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html. Flu vaccines also are offered through physician offices, many pharmacies and some grocery stores. To locate where flu vaccines near you are being offered, Google “CDC flu finder” and enter a ZIP code.

 

Getting the flu vaccine now also will provide protection during the entire flu season. During the 2018-2019 flu season, Delaware recorded 6,387 laboratory-confirmed flu cases. More than 1,000 Delawareans were hospitalized due to the flu and 24 people died from flu complications.

 

The flu is easy to transmit and you can get it even from seemingly healthy, but unvaccinated, children and adults. Children, older adults, pregnant women and those who have chronic underlying medical conditions are most at-risk for complications from the flu and are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated now.

 

In addition to getting an annual flu vaccine, Delawareans can prevent the spread of the flu and other respiratory illness with good hygiene: Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and dispose of tissues immediately. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your inner elbow. Droplets from a sneeze can travel up to six feet. Also avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Keep your distance from people who are coughing or sneezing.

 

Flu symptoms come on suddenly, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, chills and fatigue. Some people get complications including pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. Those sick with the flu should stay home from work, school and other gatherings and not return until they have been free of fever – with a temperature of less than 100 degrees F (37.8 degrees C), without the use of fever-reducing medications – for at least 24 hours.

 

People with flu symptoms should avoid close contact with well people in the household and stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other clear liquids. Over-the-counter medicines can provide symptom relief, but if you suspect you have influenza, call your doctor as they may decide to provide antiviral medications to help hasten recovery and prevent serious complications. This is particularly important for those who feel very sick, are pregnant or have chronic medical conditions.

 

For more information about the flu and where to get vaccinated, visit flu.delaware.gov or call 1-800-282-8672.

 

Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary

Jill Fredel, Director of Communications

302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498

Email:  jill.fredel@delaware.gov

 

DPH Media Contact:
Jennifer Brestel
302-744-4907, Cell 302-612-6223
Email: 
Jennifer.brestel@delaware.gov

U.S. Surgeon General releases new video “The Doctor Is In”

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., released a new video, “The Doctor Is In,” on the topic of  vaccinations. As the Nation’s doctor, VADM Adams wants to share the message that vaccines are safe and effective ways to protect your children, your family, your neighbors, and yourself.

This is particularly timely, given that CDC announced yesterday that from January 1 to May 3, 2019, 764 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 23 states. This is an increase of 60 cases from the previous week. This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.

In the video, Dr. Adams responds to frequently asked questions about vaccination.

Surgeon General VADM Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH Statement on National Infant Immunization Week, Safety and Effectiveness of Vaccines

Vaccinations save lives, protect our children, and are one of the greatest public health achievements in history. Most parents choose to protect their children with these safe, proven vaccines. Despite this, we are now seeing a large, very concerning outbreak of measles. Vaccinating your baby according to the recommended immunization …

Surgeon General’s Message on the Current Measles Outbreaks

Dear Partners,

The Nation’s Doctor would like to share a very important message with you about the current measles outbreaks occurring throughout our country.

Measles is a highly-contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It spreads through the air through coughing and sneezing. Measles starts with a fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat, and is followed by a rash that spreads all over the body.

Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 9 out of 10 people around that person will also become infected if they’re not yet vaccinated. You can get measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, even up to two hours after that person has left.  And what is even more worrisome is that an infected person can spread measles to others even before the infected person develops symptoms—from four days before they develop the measles rash through four days afterwards.

The good news is that measles can be prevented with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine.

The MMR vaccine has an excellent safety record and is highly effective. It is one of the most effective vaccines we have in our country.

Surgeon General Adams hopes you will share his message with your networks. It’s up to us to protect the health of our communities.

For more information, please visit CDC.gov

Office of the Surgeon General

Statement on Vaccines

Vaccines Continue to be Tested and Proven Safe

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2017). American Academy of Pediatrics Emphasizes Safety and Importance of Vaccines. Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Emphasizes-Safety-and-Importance-of-Vaccines.aspx

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Infant Immunizations FAQs. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/parent-questions.html

Institute of Medicine. (2004). Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism. Retrieved from https://www.nap.edu/catalog/10997/immunization-safety-review-vaccines-and-autism

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2015).  Thimerosal in Vaccines: Questions and Answers. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/QuestionsaboutVaccines/UCM070430#q5

In light of recent claims by politicians or appointees that vaccines are linked to autism, or are unsafe when administered according to the recommended schedule, or contain dangerous products like Thimerosal, the public health community and the Delaware Academy of Medicine/Delaware Public Health Association continue to come down on the side of science.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research is responsible for regulating vaccines in the United States.  Before a vaccine can be licensed for public use, it must be tested for safety in the laboratory, in animals, and in human clinical trials.  Human clinical trials include looking for common adverse events in a few participants (phase 1), several hundred volunteers looking for local reactions and general side effects like fever (phase 2), and establishing the effectiveness of the vaccine and determining less common side effects with thousands of participants (phase 3).  If a vaccine is to be given at the same time as another vaccine, the two vaccines are tested together (FDA, 2015).  If a dangerous effect is found, that vaccine is not licensed for public use.

Vaccines are continuously monitored following licensure by the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which is run by both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  The VAERS is a national system that collects all reports of adverse events following vaccination.  Phase 4 clinical studies are also conducted to further evaluate the new vaccine, and population based studies are conducted through the use of databases like the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) for the lifetime of the use of the vaccine (FDA, 2015).

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Immunization Safety Review Committee “favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism” (IOM, 2004).  Despite this finding, “all vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age or younger and marketed in the U.S. contain no thimerosal or only trace amounts” (FDA, 2015).

“Infants and young children who follow immunization schedules that spread out shots – or leave out shots – are at risk of developing diseases during the time that shots are delayed” (CDC, 2016). Vaccines “keep communities healthy, and protect some of the most vulnerable in our society” (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2017).  The Delaware Academy of Medicine will continue to advocate for vaccines and vaccine use in the state of Delaware and the United States.