State health officials confirm first flu case this season in Delaware

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The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) has announced the state’s first confirmed flu case for the 2019-2020 flu season.

The case marks Delaware’s first pediatric case of the season, involving an 8-year-old from New Castle County.

“The flu is here,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Now that we have lab-confirmation of our first case, we hope this further motivates individuals who have not yet gotten their annual flu shot to do so right away. Getting a flu shot is quick, easy, and not only protects you, but also those around you. Most of us frequently spend time around someone who is likely to have more severe consequences from influenza. If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones.”

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.

Getting the flu vaccine now will also 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.

Governor John Carney received his flu shot during Tuesday’s Drive-Thru Flu Clinic, held by DPH on the main campus of the DelDOT Administrative Building in Dover. He asked Delawareans to get their flu vaccines early, preferably by the end of October, to protect against influenza and its complications.

“Getting an annual flu vaccine is the best thing you can do to keep from getting and spreading the flu, and from missing work, school, and important family events,” said Governor Carney. “This is something you can do to protect your own health as well as the health of your grandparents, your children, co-workers or friends.”

Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long also drove through in her vehicle to get her flu vaccine. She reminded everyone that getting the flu vaccine is important for people of all ages, and not just those in high-risk groups such as those who are older or with compromised immune systems. She said the vaccine is also the best way to prevent not only flu illness, but also serious flu complications that may lead to hospitalization or death.

“The flu is unpredictable,” said Lt. Governor Hall-Long. “That’s why it’s important to get vaccinated every year, since we never know what kind of flu season we will see. Remember that a flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. Your arm may feel achy where the vaccine was given, but that usually only lasts one or two days and is far less painful than a bout with the flu.”

DPH nurses, joined by nurses from the Division’s partners at Bayhealth and the Delaware Medical Reserve Corps, administered free intramuscular flu vaccines to drivers, their passengers and even pedestrians age 9 years and older. By noon, 615 vaccinations had been administered during the drive-thru clinic. In addition, DPH administered 151 vaccinations during its walk-up flu clinic held at Porter State Service Center in Wilmington on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019.

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