There Is Still Time to Get Your Flu Shot

Influenza is a respiratory illness that affects thousands of North Dakotans each year and current cases are starting to rise.

As of December 2, the 2023-2024 flu season in North Dakota has seen 627 total flu cases, with 30 people being hospitalized, and two deaths. The highest age group for total cases is 0-9. There were 174 new cases in that week alone, the highest spike of the season thus far.

We want to remind North Dakotans that there is still time to get vaccinated against influenza (flu) to prevent the spread of illness.

Influenza activity can increase quickly. It can take up to two weeks to have the full benefit from the vaccine, so it is important to get yourself immunized as soon as possible. With the holidays quickly approaching, it is not too late to protect yourself and your family during this time of big gatherings.

Getting a flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from getting flu and can reduce the likelihood of having to go to the doctor by 40-60%. The vaccine is recommended for all North Dakotans six months of age and older.

During the 2022-2023 flu season, North Dakota had over 11,000 reported cases of influenza, and 482 influenza and pneumonia-related deaths. During this time, 174 children in the United States died due to influenza. Most were unimmunized.

In North Dakota, influenza immunization rates for the most at-risk age groups during the 2022-2023 season were 37% for children six months through four years, and 56.6% for adults 65 and older.

Research shows flu vaccination has several benefits, including:

  • Flu vaccination reduces the severity of illness in hospitalized individuals.
    • Among vaccinated adults hospitalized with flu, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions decreased by more than half (59%), and they spent fewer days in the ICU compared to unvaccinated hospitalized people.
    • Children’s risk of admission to a pediatric intensive care unit for flu-related illness was cut by almost 75%.
  • Flu vaccination reduces the chance of hospitalization and death.
    • Influenza hospitalizations were cut in half for all adults (including those 65+ years of age).
    • Influenza hospitalizations dropped dramatically among people with chronic health conditions – by 79% for vaccinated people with diabetes and 52% for those with chronic lung disease.
    • Vaccinating long-term care facility (LTCF) staff reduces hospitalizations and deaths in facility residents.
    • Pediatric deaths from flu were cut in half for vaccinated children with underlying high-risk medical conditions and by two-thirds for healthy children, compared to those who were not vaccinated.
  • Flu vaccination protects pregnant people and their babies.
    • For vaccinated pregnant people, flu-associated acute respiratory infections were cut in half, and flu-associated hospitalizations were reduced by 40%.
    • Influenza illnesses and influenza-related hospitalizations in infants under 6 months of age fell by half when their mothers were vaccinated.

Common flu symptoms include:

  • Fever/Chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)

Most people with flu have mild illness. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.

If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are in a higher-risk group (young children, people 65 and older, pregnant people, and people with certain medical conditions), or are worried about your illness, contact your health care provider.

For information on where to go to get your vaccine, visit hhs.nd.gov/health/influenza/vaccine-information.

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