The flu is spreading fast and has been deadly in Vermont. Friday, the Health Department released more information about the three people who have died from the flu. All three were adults, two of them elderly, and all three had serious underlying medical conditions. Now, there's a new push to get people vaccinated.
The flu is spreading fast at grocery stores, gas stations, even at the workplace.
"The best way to prevent severe illness and infection is to get vaccinated," said Patsy Kelso of the Vermont Health Department.
As fast as the flu outbreak spreads across the country, so does the message to get vaccinated.
"I get them every year, but because of the outbreak it's really important," said Barry Bergeron of Winooski.
Dozens turned out at a special flu clinic Friday at the Visiting Nurse Association in Colchester in response to the nationwide epidemic.
"I don't really want to get sick. I don't want to be down and out," said Cindy Lestage, who got a flu shot.
Maria McGrath had the flu.
"Just my whole body hurt," she said. "I knew I was not doing well when my hair hurt. I took my temperature and it was 103."
McGrath is still recovering from the flu. She was bedridden for nearly a week.
"It felt like a big win when I get up for dinner on the fifth day," McGrath said.
"The CDC said the match this year is very good between the flu vaccine and the flu strain that is going around," said Beverly Berry of the Visiting Nurse Association.
Now once you get the flu shot, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to kick in.
"The body has to build up the antibodies to fight the flu," Berry said.
People with the flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away, mainly from body fluids.
"It's easy to spread with cough and sneeze," Berry said.
And it's easy to spread even if you don't even know you have the flu. People can be contagious a day before any symptoms show up and for up to a week once they feel sick. Some people can spread the virus even if they have no symptoms themselves.
Vermont's Catholic Church is even taking precautions. The diocese is recommending that holy water be replaced regularly, folks exchange the sign of peace with a head nod or bow, and that greeters at mass avoid shaking hands when there is a danger of transmitting the flu.
And so is getting vaccinated, that's why Lestage took time out of her schedule to get a flu shot.
"At least I'm doing something to maybe prevent it," she said.
The Vermont Health Department says there is enough vaccine in the state. But it may be hard to get a hold of. Health officials warn that many doctors' offices are booked for weeks already. And the Health Department in Burlington is taking appointments for flu shots in February. In the meantime, it is important to follow precautions to avoid getting the flu.
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