Gov. Burgum proclaimed the month of October as Influenza Prevention Month and the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services is reminding everyone to get vaccinated against influenza (flu) this fall.
“The influenza vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year and an annual vaccine is an important action North Dakotans can take to protect themselves and their loved ones against flu viruses,” said State Health Officer, Dr. Nizar Wehbi.
Influenza is not the “stomach flu.” It is a respiratory disease that most commonly causes fever, cough, sore throat, headache, chills and body aches.
Everyone six months and older should receive the flu vaccine. Anyone can get the flu, including healthy individuals. When more people get the flu vaccine, the virus spreads less easily and much slower to those who are vulnerable to serious complications from the flu.
Infants, young children, pregnant women, those over age 65 or those who have chronic medical conditions are at an increased risk of serious complications from influenza.
“Influenza can be quite severe and was responsible for over 200 hospitalizations and 39 deaths in North Dakota during the 2021-22 flu season,” said Levi Schlosser, epidemiologist with Department of Health and Human Services.
In North Dakota, influenza activity begins to increase in the fall and typically peaks between January and March. Fifty-four influenza cases have already been reported in the state for the 2022-23 season.
“Flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing work, school, or family events, or it can result in more serious illness,” said Schlosser. “People can get vaccinated against influenza anytime this fall, but the best time to get vaccinated is by the end of October.”
Vaccine locations can be found online at www.vaccines.gov/find-vaccines.
Information about influenza can be found at www.hhs.nd.gov/flu
Cost should not be a barrier to vaccination. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program provides influenza vaccine to any child who is uninsured, underinsured, Medicaid-eligible or American Indian. Influenza vaccine is also available at no cost for uninsured and underinsured adults. North Dakotans are encouraged to contact their health care provider, local public health department, or pharmacist for information about influenza vaccine availability in their area.