The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) is reminding all North Dakotans to get vaccinated against influenza. In an event held at the Capitol today, Gov. Doug Burgum highlighted the importance of vaccination.
“The safest and easiest way to prevent yourself from getting the flu is to get vaccinated,” said Burgum. “This protects not only yourself but your family and community as well.”
Anyone can get the flu, including healthy individuals. Everyone 6 months and older should receive the flu vaccine. When more people are vaccinated, the virus does not spread as easily and quickly to those who are vulnerable to serious complications from the flu. Many of these individuals are the same people at risk for complications due to COVID-19, including pregnant women, people older than 65, and those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, lung disease and heart disease. Last year, 57% of North Dakotans were vaccinated against influenza.
This fall and winter, both COVID-19 and influenza will be circulating at the same time. The flu vaccine will not prevent COVID-19, but it will protect against a severe respiratory illness that last year caused 188 pediatric deaths nationwide.
“Preventing the flu reduces the burden of disease on our health care system, both testing and hospital capacity,” said Immunization Director Molly Howell. “It also prevents an illness that causes employees to miss work and children to miss school or child care.”
Influenza is a respiratory disease. The most common symptoms are fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills and body aches. In North Dakota, influenza activity begins in the fall and typically peaks between January and March. Twenty-five influenza cases have already been reported in the state for the 2020-21 season.
People can get vaccinated against influenza anytime this fall, but the best time to get vaccinated is by the end of October. Vaccination does not protect against other respiratory diseases or the germs that cause “stomach flu.”
North Dakotans are encouraged to contact their health care provider, local public health unit, or pharmacist for information about influenza vaccine availability in their area. More information about influenza can be found at www.ndflu.com.