Delaware health leaders hoping for easier flu season

After a very active 2012-13 flu season, the Delaware Division of Public Health wants more Delawareans to get vaccinated in hopes of reducing the brunt of the coming flu season.

Through the 2013 calendar year, Delaware saw more than 1,700 confirmed flu cases and four deaths due to flu-related causes in the past flu season.  State health officials are hoping this year’s flu season more closely mirrors the 2011-2012 season when just 262 flu cases were reported and no deaths.

In addition to a high number of cases earlier this year, the state was also struggling with a shortage of vaccine.  In January, the state temporarily lifted the ban on vaccine made with thimerosal, a preservative that contains trace amounts of mercury.  “Last flu season was a tough year and shows us how hard it is to forecast how bad the flu season can be,” said Div. of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay.  

“Those who receive the flu vaccine should not miss work, school or community activities because of flu illness.  And, they’ll be protecting others, especially young children, from the illness.”

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Rattay, along with Lt. Gov. Matt Denn and Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf, got their flu shots last week while encouraging others to get their flu shots.  The “Get It” campaign is aimed at healthy 19-49 year-olds, encouraging them to get flu shots.  While that group is among the least likely to get a vaccine for flu, they are among the most likely spread the disease, according to state health officials.   

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