November 8, 2017
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683

Get Your Flu Shot Now, Be Protected for the Holidays

2017-18 flu season off to an early start, new report shows improvement needed in vaccination rates

With the holiday season approaching, now is a good time to get a flu shot to make sure you, your friends, and your family are protected for all the events and activities to come. According to health officials, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, so those who get a flu shot now can be protected by Thanksgiving.

This advice comes on the heels of a review of influenza vaccination data by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) which shows the state ranks below many other states in the Midwest and nationally for residents getting their flu shots.

According to the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for the 2016-2017 influenza season, Wisconsin was below national influenza vaccination rates in overall coverage, and for adults at higher risk of influenza complications, such as pregnant women and people with asthma, heart disease, or other chronic conditions. The state’s vaccination rate for children age 6 months to 17 years old was slightly higher than the national vaccination rate, but still leaves 4 out of every 10 Wisconsin children unprotected against the flu.

Age Group Wisconsin Vaccination Rate National Vaccination Rate
6 months to 17 years 59.5% 59%
18 to 64 years 35.0% 37.5%
Over 65 years 55.7% 63.5%
Adults Considered High Risk 42.4% 46.4%
Overall Rate 43.7% 46.8%

“If you think about the people you will come in contact with during the holidays, remember that your flu shot not only protects you, it protects others from serious illness, too," stated State Health Officer Karen McKeown. "We know that as a state we can do better for ourselves and everyone around us.”

To make getting the flu shot more convenient, DHS and the CDC provide a vaccine finder that shows where the vaccine is available near a person’s residence or workplace. In addition, DHS encourages people to get the vaccine at flu shot clinics held by employers, churches, and many organizations.

The flu shot is safe and effective for people age 6 months old and older and is the most effective way to prevent the flu. Along with getting a flu shot, these simple steps can help prevent illness:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your upper sleeve, and try to avoid touching your face with your hand. If you use a tissue, throw it away after one use.
  • Never share drinking cups, straws, and utensils.
  • When possible, avoid being exposed to people who are sick with flu-like symptoms.
  • Eat nutritious meals, get plenty of rest, and do not smoke.
  • Frequently clean commonly touched surfaces, like doorknobs, the refrigerator handles, your phone, and faucets.

Information about the 2017-2018 flu season can be found in the DHS Weekly Influenza Report.