PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) is urging all Rhode Islanders who are able to be immunized against flu to get a flu shot, as the number of influenza cases has begun to increase at both the local and national levels. HEALTH reports that influenza activity has been upgraded from sporadic to local (more widespread) in Rhode Island, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported significant increases in flu activity throughout the U.S. during the last two weeks.
"National monitoring by the CDC tells us that an early flu season has begun, and that flu-like illness levels nationwide are already higher than all of last season," said Michael Fine, MD, director of HEALTH. "We've also seen increased flu activity in Rhode Island, but the good news for Rhode Islanders is that it's not too late to protect yourself and your family from influenza by getting immunized against flu."
Vaccines are one of the best ways to prevent the flu, and to avoid spreading it to people at high risk of flu-related complications. Flu vaccine is generally recommended for people ages six months and older. It is especially important for healthcare workers, pregnant women, people over the age of 50, nursing or group home residents, and people with chronic conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes, asthma, anemia, blood disorders, or weakened immune systems to be immunized against flu. In particular, those who live with or care for those who are at high risk of flu-related complications should also be immunized.
Symptoms of influenza can include fever, cough, head and body aches, fatigue and runny nose. Some people also have vomiting and diarrhea.
Immunizations are available throughout Rhode Island, including through your primary care provider, at flu vaccination clinics, and at local pharmacies.
For more information about influenza or to find a vaccination clinic near you, visit www.health.ri.gov/flu
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