Vaccines

RVNA offers flu vaccines, prevention tips

The Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association said Tuesday that it still has inventory of the flu vaccine to administer to residents.

April Rodriguez, the RVNA’s community health and wellness nurse manager, said the nonprofit health care provider has administered 1,100 flu shots to the public and an additional 1,370 shots at private clinics.

She said that while the association does not have records of the number of people treated for the flu in Ridgefield, “statewide emergency department visits attributed to ‘fever/flu syndrome’ are continuing to increase and are now at 7.4%.”

The state considers 5% to be the minimum threshold, Rodriguez said.

Fairfield County as a whole has seen 256 cases of influenza-positive laboratory tests between Aug. 27, 2017, and Jan. 6, 2018, she added.

“We don’t have the comparable number for Fairfield County as of this time last year,” Rodriguez said, “but given the statewide trend, I think it is safe to assume that it is above last year.”

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said that while town health officials have not alerted him to any specific concerns this flu season, friends and residents have spoken to him in passing of prolonged colds and coughs.

“There seem to be a lot more people suffering from a little bit more than the common cold; that’s probably something we shouldn’t ignore,” he said. “People need to pay attention to the length of their cold, and don’t hesitate to see a doctor if they’re questioning anything.”

“It’s a serious thing going around,” Marconi said.

Prevention

This year’s flu shot is less effective, Health Director Ed Briggs explained, because the Centers for Disease Control’s prediction of what strains of the influenza virus would hit were off. “They usually guess at the strains of flu that are going to be around, and this year they didn’t really get it right,” he said.

“According to the CDC, influenza A (H3N2) is circulating widely,” Rodriguez said. That holds true for Connecticut as well, according to the state Department of Health, she said. But “according to [the Department of Health], more people have been hospitalized with influenza B virus (64) than with influenza A (H3N2) (49), with data as of Jan. 6, 2018,” Rodriguez said.

Dr. David Reed, New Canaan director of health, repeated the call for flu vaccinations. If you get a flu vaccination and then get the flu virus, you reduce the chance of hospitalization and serious complications, Reed explained.

If you or a child is sick, do not go to school or work, he said, because that could spread a virus. Sneeze into your elbow and wash your hands, he added.

“The flu vaccine we have this year contains…