PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
January 14, 2013

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

New Jersey Department of Health Urges Residents to “Take 3” Actions to Fight the Flu [En Español ]

As influenza (flu) activity continues to increase in New Jersey and nationwide, Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd encourages New Jersey residents to "Take 3" actions to fight the flu.

The following actions, promoted by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will help to protect yourself and others during the peak of flu season: take time to get a flu vaccine; take everyday preventative actions to stop the spread of germs; and take flu antiviral drugs if your healthcare provider prescribes them.

"Like most of the nation, New Jersey is experiencing widespread flu activity," said Commissioner O'Dowd. "Flu vaccination is the single most important step we can take to protect ourselves and our families against infection. The good news is that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that the flu vaccine is a very good match for the strains of flu circulating in the community and early data indicates that individuals who are vaccinated have been 62 percent less likely to visit a doctor due to illness from the flu."

To find a nearby flu clinic, please visit the Find a Flu Shot Locator on the Department's website.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year. A flu shot is especially important for certain groups of individuals who are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications. These groups include: pregnant women, children under the age of five, but especially younger than 2 years old, people 65 years of age and older, and people with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and HIV).

In addition, there are other people for whom vaccination is especially important-people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and people who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from the flu.

The Department works with the health care associations to strongly encourage health care workers to protect themselves, their families and their patients by getting a flu shot. Health care workers are recommended to receive the flu vaccine to reduce the transmission of influenza-related illness and death, especially to patients at increased risk for severe flu complications.

"If you are the parent or guardian of a child under the age of 6 months, please get a flu shot not only to protect yourself but also to protect your baby," said Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito. "If you live in a household with anyone in one of the high-risk categories, you should also get vaccinated."

Children younger than 6 months of age are too young to get vaccinated and anyone who has ever had a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine also should not get a flu shot

Taking everyday preventative actions can help stop the spread of germs that cause respiratory illness, like flu. These measures include washing your hands, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, avoiding close contact with sick people and staying home from work or school if you are sick.

Those who do get the flu should stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone except to get medical care. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine. You should stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings.

If you get the flu, there are prescription antiviral drugs that can treat your illness. Early treatment is especially important for the elderly, the very young, people with certain chron­ic health conditions and pregnant women. Check with your healthcare provider to see if you are a candidate for this medication and follow instructions for taking this medication.

Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

For more information about the "Take 3" actions to fight the flu, please visit the CDC webpage, http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm

For general flu information and resources, please visit: http://nj.gov/health/flu/generalinfo.shtml.

To view weekly reports on flu activity in New Jersey, please visit: http://nj.gov/health/flu/fluinfo.shtml#rep