Flu deaths bring total to nine

DOVER — Several Delawareans have recently passed away from the flu, bringing this year’s count to nine, the Delaware Division of Public Health said. Each of the deceased had underlying medical conditions.

As of Feb. 15, there have been 5,047 confirmed flu cases in Delaware, including 267 hospitalizations. By comparison, at the same time in the 2018-2019 season, there were 3,264 cases, including 537 hospitalizations and 13 deaths.

Of the nine who have died this year, five were from New Castle County, three were from Sussex County and one was from Kent County. Six individuals were diagnosed with Influenza A and three were diagnosed with Influenza B.

Two of the nine received the flu vaccine this season.

“We express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of those we have lost due to the flu,” DPH Director Karyl Rattay said in a statement. “It’s not too late to get the flu vaccine. People six months and older should receive the flu vaccine every year. The vaccine’s main purpose is to make you less likely to catch the flu, but if you still catch it, the vaccine will make your symptoms milder.

“It takes two weeks for the antibodies in the flu vaccine to become fully effective, so if you haven’t gotten the vaccine yet, you should make arrangements to do so as soon as possible. Always remember to take any antiviral medicine that your doctor prescribes as needed, also.”

In addition to getting a flu vaccine and taking antiviral medication, DPH recommends simple everyday steps to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. Individuals are urged to wash their hands with soap and water frequently or at least use hand sanitizer. They should also avoid touching hands to mouth, nose and eyes and should cough or sneeze into a tissue or inner elbow.

Anyone who feels sick is urged to stay home to avoid spreading germs and to call a doctor if the flu is suspected.

The very young and elderly, as well as people with underlying health conditions, are at greater risk during flu season.

Flu symptoms come on suddenly and can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue. Some people get complications that include pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections.

Flu vaccines are available at many pharmacies and grocery stores, and through primary care physicians and some specialists. To find participating stores, enter your ZIP code in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s flu vaccine finder at www.cdc.gov/flu/.

For more information about the flu, visit flu.delaware.gov/ or call DPH at 1-800-282-8672.

Flu shots are still available at DPH clinics located within the State Service Centers. They are:

•Porter State Service Center, 509 W. Eighth St., Wilmington. For ages 9 and up. Walk-ins are welcome Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

•Hudson State Service Center, 501 Ogletown Road, Newark. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Call 302-283-7587 (choose Option 2) to make an appointment Monday through Friday.

•Williams State Service Center, 805 River Road, Dover. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Call 857-5140 to make an appointment Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

•Milford State Service Center – Riverwalk, 253 N.E. Front St., Milford. For ages 9 years and older. Mondays and Fridays. Walk-ins are accepted on Mondays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. By appointment only on Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call 424-7130 to make an appointment.

•Anna C. Shipley State Service Center, 350 Virginia Ave., Seaford. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Walk-ins welcome Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

•Adams State Service Center, 544 S. Bedford St., Georgetown. For all ages, including children age 6 months and older. Walk-ins welcome on Mondays only from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.