It’s already May. Isn’t the flu season over? Unfortunately, the answer is no for the CNMI.
Based on the flu surveillance of the Commonwealth Health Care Corp., health officials are seeing higher than usual confirmed cases of flu for the fifth week in a row.
Last week, there were 50 cases of confirmed flu diagnosed in the CNMI.
A total of 9 percent of doctors’ visits in the CNMI are for flu and flu-like symptoms; this is about three times higher than the U.S. national average of 2.8 percent doctor’s visits for flu-like symptoms.
The majority of CNMI cases are in children, age 0-19 years old, but especially in the very young (0-4 years old).
Most of the cases are in those who have not had the flu vaccine or in the case of young children, had only one out of the necessary two flu shots.
“We have also noticed that if there is one confirmed flu case in a family, other members in the family easily get the infection too,” according to a CHCC statement issued Wednesday.
“Because of the ongoing high rate of flu in our region, it is highly encouraged that you immunize yourself and your children against the flu as soon as possible.
I’m an adult. Why do I need the flu shot?
Healthy adults can still get very sick from the flu.
The flu vaccine prevents millions of illness and flu-related doctor’s visits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that the flu vaccine reduces the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu-like symptoms by 40-60 percent.
If you have chronic illnesses such as asthma, COPD, or diabetes, getting a flu vaccine further prevents the risk of having exacerbations or hospitalizations as complications from these diseases. It can also reduce your risk of having a heart attack since an acute flu illness has been shown to increase stress on the heart.
When you get immunized with the flu vaccine you don’t just protect yourself, you protect others around you. Babies, older people, and people with certain medical conditions might not be able to get the flu vaccine, but if you are immunized then they are less likely to contract it from you.
What’s the difference between a cold and flu?
The common cold and flu are both caused by viruses. Those with flu are usually much sicker. With flu you usually get fever, chills, generalized weakness, muscle aches, cough, and headache.
Vaccination is key to health
The regional flu uptick is projected to continue for several more weeks. If you have any questions regarding flu vaccination, including where to get one, contact the Commonwealth Health Center’s Immunization Clinic at:
Rota: 532-9461 (PR)