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Flu season is here: Health Department urges protection from the seasonal virus

For immediate release

Fort Wayne (Oct. 16, 2023) – With flu season underway and other respiratory illnesses circulating, the Allen County Department of Health is working to make sure you have everything you need to stay healthy.

Indiana is currently experiencing minimal levels of influenza-like illness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but flu season typically begins in October and peaks between December and February. The Health Department has flu vaccines in stock, so you can be protected as cases increase in the coming weeks.

“Getting vaccinated each year is the best way to protect yourself and others from seasonal flu,” Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Gutwein said. “And other healthy habits like regular handwashing and covering your cough can help stop the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu. It’s not too early – or too late – to get your flu shot.”

Flu vaccines for those 6 months and older are available at the Department of Health Medical Annex, and appointments are preferred. Appointments can be made by calling (260) 449-7504.

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. It affects about 8% of the U.S. population each year and can cause mild to severe illness and also death. Symptoms include fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue. Some people – more often, children – experience vomiting and diarrhea.

Viruses are spread mainly by droplets created when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk.

In addition, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) also continue to circulate.

To ensure vaccines are available for everyone, regardless of ability to pay or insurance status, the Department of Health orders vaccines from various sources. Shipping delays or back-ordered products can sometimes result in not having all vaccines for everyone at the same time.

The Department of Health currently can offer COVID-19 vaccines to those 6 months and older who meet certain eligibility criteria based on lack of insurance or coverage by Medicaid. We will expand availability and alert the public once an adequate vaccine supply is stocked for those who do not meet the above criteria.

Please contact the Department at (260) 449-7504 with questions about eligibility and to schedule an appointment.

Pharmacies, clinics and other health care providers also are providing COVID-19 vaccinations in Allen County. The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) maintains a searchable map detailing locations where vaccines are available.

Super Shot, a valued community partner, also is providing the vaccines.

The Department of Health is working closely with IDOH to secure a new, preventive treatment for RSV in young children. The Department plans to offer the antibody treatment, once it is available, but it is not available at this time.

Tips for preventing respiratory illnesses:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, also keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Staying away from work, school, errands in public, etc. will help prevent viruses from spreading.
  • Cover your cough. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or cloth when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Wash your hands. Effective handwashing will help protect you and stop the spread of illnesses. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Doing so can spread germs.
  • Practice other healthy habits. Get plenty of sleep, be active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods.