National Influenza Vaccination Week reminds people it's not too -

National Influenza Vaccination Week reminds people it's not too late for a flu shot

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It's National Influenza Vaccination Week and health officials are taking the opportunity to remind everyone that it's not too late to get a flu shot.

“Better to be safe than sorry.” MaryEllen Sanders got her flu shot this year. “Because that's what I do every year,” she said.

”I don't normally get them.” But Nancy Schmidt skips the shot she makes sure the rest of her family gets. “I’m at stay at home mom,” she explained, “my husband travels, my kids - I get for them, but I’ve never had a problem with it, so I don't.”

“It’s never too late to get it.” It’s National Influenza Vaccination Week and health officials are trying to urge anyone who hasn't gotten the flu shot yet, to roll up their sleeves and join the fight against the nasty virus. “A lot of people just don't think, you know, I’ve never had the flu, I’ve never had a flu shot, I’m not going to get it,” said Gail Toy, R.N., with the Atlantic County Division of Public Health, “All you have to do is get sick once with the flu and you'll remember next year to get your shot.”

On average, more than 200,00 people are hospitalized each year in the United States due to complications from the flu, which can sometimes even prove to be deadly. “Particularly with the little ones and the elderly,” explained Toy, “they are the most vulnerable for the complications of the flu.”

So far this season, the CDC says Garden State is only seeing local cases of the flu, rather than a regional or widespread outbreak. According to the NJ Department of Health, Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties are seeing a moderate amount of cases, compared to our neighbors the north. But with Christmas just around the corner and all the traveling, kissing, and hugging the holidays bring, officials say act now to be protected by then. “You're looking at two weeks for protection,” said Toy of how long it takes the vaccine to become effective, “which is why we always recommend getting it as early as possible.”

But it's never too late to change your mind, “Yeah, you did,” said Schmidt, reconsidering that vaccination, “especially since I have to go to my doctor next week and she's going to see this,” and give yourself the gift of health this holiday season.

Officials with AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center say since October 1st, 139 people have sought emergency care for flu-like symptoms.

According to Flu Near You, which collects data of self-reported symptoms, there's been an increase in the percentage of users reporting symptoms related to influenza.  Their reports say that as of October 7th (near the beginning of flu season) 8.3% of users reported symptoms, while November 18-25 saw 21.3% users reporting symptoms like fever, cough, body ache, and fatigue.

The Atlantic County Division of Public Health will hold a walk-in flu shot clinics all week long, from 9 a.m. until noon at their Northfield offices.

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