State reports flu is on the rise in Vermont

For the first time this flu season, the Vermont Department of Health has reported widespread influenza activity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with influenza-like illness confirmed in all areas of the state.

“Everyone age 6 months and older should be vaccinated against seasonal flu,” said Patsy Kelso, state epidemiologist for infectious disease. “Flu can be a serious illness, especially for the very young and very old, and a typical season can last well into March.”

Ask your health care provider for a flu vaccine, or get vaccinated at a local pharmacy. Vaccine is also available, by appointment, at no charge for children up through age 18 at the Health Department's 12 district offices.

In the United States, the flu season is considered October through May. It usually peaks in February.

According to the Vermont Department of Health's website, the state's flu level is assessed using data from Vermont medical practices, hospitals, and reports of flu outbreaks from schools, nursing homes, and other group settings and laboratory reports.

Take the following simple precautions to help keep illness from spreading:

• Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

• Cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw it away.

• Wash your hands often, especially after you cough or sneeze.

• Use alcohol-based hand wipes and gel sanitizers if soap and water are not available.

• Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

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