Flu season arrives in Delaware - so has the flu vaccine

Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay receives her flu shot at a clinic in Wilmington Friday

Delawareans are rolling up their sleeves for their flu shot in what's become an annual fall ritual.

It's a good thing this year: on the same day the Division of Public Health offered free flu shots at a clinic in Wilmington, DPH also confirmed the first known case of influenza in the young season. 

The patient who was diagnosed with influenza is going to be fine. Last season was a fairly serious one with nearly 6,400 cases confirmed in Delaware. 24 people in Delaware died of flu complications.

Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said the shot can help in several ways. "Whether it's illness in the first place or severity, it's a really powerful prevention tool," Rattay said shortly after receiving the vaccine herself.

One man who received his shot said he does so each year now, "A couple of years ago, man, three times a year - sick, sick, sick," he said. "Now I take it. It's good for me."

The vaccine is recommended for anyone six months of age or older. Health officials said it should be received as early as possible in the season because it takes about two weeks after the vaccination for protective antibodies to develop in the body. 

Rattay is aware that the flu vaccine has its detractors and unbelievers. She had this advice:

"If you don't want to do it for yourself, do it for your family. Most of us are around somebody who is likely to have more severe consequences from influenza."

People most at risk of complications include the elderly, children, and people with chronic underlying medical conditions.

For more information, visit flu.delaware.gov