September 2018 marks 100 years since the 1918 H1N1 flu pandemic took out 1 to 3% of the world’s population. To that end, the Ocean County Health Department recognizes a century of some of the greatest advancements in public health, established and galvanized by the Spanish Influenza epidemic – vaccinations, anti-virals, strain predictability and active surveillance, along with many others. If the same mortality rates from flu occurred today, it would equate to 228 million lives lost from the flu. There is no greater time to recognize the importance of public health in protecting you and your loved ones from this vaccine-preventable illness.
“One of the key things looking back is recognizing that we have public health practices in place today that those in 1918 never had,” says Daniel E. Regenye, Ocean County Health Department Public Health Coordinator. “Vaccination against influenza is an important step Ocean County residents should take to protect themselves from the flu. We recommend residents be vaccinated, through their primary healthcare provider or at any of our community-based clinics, seek medical help when experiencing flu-like symptoms, and practice frequent hand washing.”
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older, including pregnant women. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop protection against the flu. It is also essential to practice good hygiene by properly and frequently washing your hands to help prevent the spread of seasonal flu. Make it a habit to clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces in your home, school or office. You can take additional steps to ward off the flu by coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow and avoiding touching your face.
“Each year, flu sickens many residents across the County, and flu-related illnesses were responsible for nearly 1,000 deaths in New Jersey last year alone,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “Everyone must take flu seriously and protect themselves and others by ensuring that all eligible family members are vaccinated.” “The Ocean County Health Department has begun a series of flu clinics throughout the county and locations, dates and times are available on OCHD’s website.”
The information we have gathered over the last century leads us to exciting opportunities to ensure a safe and healthy future for ourselves and our families. For more information on obtaining an influenza vaccine or for educational programs available for your community, please contact the Ocean County Health Department at 732-341-9700 x7604.