Posted By: KLKN Newsroom
Lincoln, Neb. - State health officials say flu activity is increasing in Nebraska. Two flu-related deaths have been reported to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services so far this season and hospitalizations are also on the rise.
"It's important to remember that flu can be a very serious disease," said Dr. Joseph Acierno, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS. "Flu will continue to circulate for many more weeks and vaccine can help protect you. It's certainly not too late to get vaccinated."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. While flu can make anyone sick, certain people are at greater risk for serious complications, and it's extremely important they receive vaccine:
People with chronic lung disease (like asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurologic conditions and certain other long-term health conditions
Because flu can be especially severe during pregnancy, the CDC surveys pregnant women to see if they are immunized. Recent data show the biggest factor in increasing flu immunization coverage for pregnant women is a recommendation from a physician to get a flu shot. More than 80 percent of pregnant women in Nebraska who were advised to get the flu shot did. Among all new moms during the 2010-2011 flu season, 73.5 percent received flu vaccine, ranking Nebraska second out of 21 states according to CDC data.
Here are some other preventive tips to help protect yourself against the flu:
cover your cough
stay home if you're sick
avoid sick people
eat healthy and get plenty of rest
Flu vaccine is safe, effective and rigorously tested. The most common reaction is soreness and redness at the injection site. If you don't like needles, FluMist is a nasal spray available for healthy people 2-49 years old. After you're vaccinated, it takes about two weeks for your body to build immunity.
DHHS uses multiple surveillance systems to track flu viruses, including sentinel physicians who report the number of people with flu-like illness weekly, lab tests, school surveillance, hospital data, emergency department data and death reporting. Surveillance shows where the flu is and how fast it's spreading across the state.
You can find DHHS' latest flu report at http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Documents/Report.pdf