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Don’t let the flu stop you from having fun this fall

The excitement of returning to school, going to local football games and other fall activities, will soon be followed by flu season and health officials are encouraging people to schedule their flu vaccines now, to protect themselves, their children, elderly relatives and their communities.

“The flu can be dangerous for many people, including pregnant women, young children, people age 65 and older, and others whose immune systems aren’t working well,” said Jeanne Ayers, state health officer and Division of Public Health administrator. “Getting your flu vaccine protects you and so many others in your community, and helps prevent missed school or work.”

Nationally, some 17 million workdays are missed, because of flu. During last year’s Wisconsin flu season, 3,483 people were hospitalized and 604 were admitted to the intensive care unit from flu-related complications. In the previous flu season, 7,526 people were hospitalized with the flu, the highest year on record.

Getting the flu vaccine helps reduce chances of getting sick from the flu and shortens the amount of time someone is sick. The flu vaccine can also reduce the symptoms if a person does get the flu.

Yearly flu shots should begin soon after the flu vaccine is available, ideally by October. However, getting vaccinated later in the season can still be beneficial, as flu viruses may still circulate.

To help prevent the spread of flu, in addition to receiving the flu shot, the following tips should be adhered to:

• Cover nose and mouth with a tissue, or shirt sleeve, when coughing or sneezing.

• Wash hands with hot water and soap often, especially before eating, or, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.

• Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth.

• Clean and disinfect surfaces that may harbor flu germs.

• Eat a balanced diet to keep the immune system healthy.

• Get enough exercise.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting. If a person has the flu, they need to stay home, treat the fever and contact a healthcare provider, if necessary.

To schedule an appointment to receive the flu vaccine, contact a primary provider, or visit, to locate a clinic or pharmacy providing the shots. The Vaccines for Children Program also provides flu and other vaccines to eligible children, at low or no cost.