The Department of Health today announced that as of November 28th, there have been 480 laboratory-confirmed flu cases and one flu-associated death statewide. As flu season intensifies, Pennsylvanians need to get their flu vaccine.
“We are two months into this flu season and 10 months into the COVID-19 pandemic,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “This is not the time to become complacent in safety practices. Instead, do your part to answer the call to wear a mask, wash your hands, social distance, download the COVID Alert PA app and follow all of the mitigation efforts in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the flu.”
Flu activity is low across the commonwealth. There are flu cases in 40 of the 67 counties. Influenza A and B have been identified by laboratory testing. The percent of outpatient visits associated with Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) has been low and is still below the state epidemic threshold. A total of 12 influenza associated hospitalizations and one death in the 50-64-year-old age group have been reported in Pennsylvania during the current flu season.
The department’s epidemiologists continue to monitor flu activity. A multidisciplinary working group comprised of internal and external partners is prepared to quickly respond to increased flu activity over the coming winter months.
“COVID-19 cases are at an all-time high and we cannot afford to have a flu epidemic in Pennsylvania at the same time as this global pandemic,” Deputy Secretary of Health Preparedness and Community Protection Ray Barishansky said. “If you have not already done so, get your flu vaccine today. If you have already gotten your flu vaccine this year, thank you for helping Pennsylvanians stay protected together. We know that people who get the flu after being vaccinated have a less severe case and are not sick as long as those who do not get vaccinated. The safety and health of Pennsylvanians remains our number one concern.”
The vaccines are available as a flu shot for anyone six months or older and as a flu shot or nasal spray for anyone two or older. Flu vaccines are available at your doctor’s office, pharmacy, local clinics or grocery store. A list of upcoming flu clinics can be found here.
Flu is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. It attacks the nose, throat and lungs and may include the following symptoms:
- Dry cough;
- Sore throat;
- Nasal congestion; and
- Body aches.
In addition to getting vaccinated, Pennsylvanians are encouraged to practice healthy habits such as covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, frequently washing your hands, and remembering to disinfect commonly touched objects including door knobs, light switches, countertops, cell phones and computers. Furthermore, Pennsylvanians are encouraged to practice COVID-19 safety measures such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and downloading the COVID Alert PA app.
If you do become sick with the flu, it is imperative that you stay home. If you are at risk for developing serious complications from the flu, or feel extremely ill, you should see a medical professional immediately.
For more information on the 2020-2021 flu season, click here.
The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of the flu and COVID-19:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
- Clean surfaces frequently.
- Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
- If you must go out, you are required to wear a mask when in a business or where it is difficult to maintain proper social distancing.
- Download the COVID Alert PA app and make your phone part of the fight. The free app can be found in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store by searching for “covid alert pa”.