COMMENTARY: Importance of flu vaccinations for Delaware residents

We all know someone who still needs to be immunized against influenza this year. The time is now for Delaware residents to help protect themselves and their loved ones against serious, sometimes deadly diseases.

Influenza is a serious respiratory illness that oftentimes gets dismissed as a common cold. Nationwide, influenza and its complications cause an average of 23,607 deaths and approximately 200,000 hospitalizations each year. In Delaware, we have had an average of 461 hospitalizations each year over the past four influenza seasons.

More than 220 million people are recommended to receive the influenza vaccine annually. That’s more than two out of every three people in the United States. Despite the recommendation, influenza immunization rates fall far short of where they should be every year.

Adults and children with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, and diabetes, are at increased risk for complications from influenza and should be immunized each year. People 50 years of age and older, and pregnant women, need to be vaccinated to help prevent influenza-related complications and the spread of this dangerous disease.

Parents should also be aware that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children 6 months through 8 years of age getting a flu shot for the first time receive two doses approximately one month apart for optimal protection.

Anthony Vasile

Anthony Vasile

Flu season begins as early as October, usually peaks around January and February, but may not end until as late as May. In most seasons, influenza virus activity peaks around January and February, so, vaccination throughout the entire influenza season is beneficial and recommended.

Quite simply, vaccination is a safe and an effective way to prevent influenza and its complications. Yearly vaccinations can help eliminate the risk for vaccine-preventable diseases that you may be susceptible to, because of your age, occupation, daily activities and any current health conditions.

Contact your local health care provider. If you don’t have a doctor, you can get a flu vaccine somewhere else, such as local pharmacies, urgent care clinics, and often at your school, college health center, or your workplace.

Anyone can get influenza; it is so important for all of us to understand the risks associated with the illness and the tremendous benefit of receiving a yearly immunization. For more information on health tips, please visit www.lung.org.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Anthony A. Vasile is board-certified in pulmonary disease, sleep medicine and critical care medicine and is located in Wilmington, and currently serves on the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic board of directors.

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