Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 8:15am

Protect Yourself and Vulnerable People Around You This Holiday Season

Influenza (the flu) has not hit peak season yet in Wisconsin, and there is still time to get a flu shot to prevent becoming sick. Typically, we see peak flu activity in January or February in our area. There have been 22 flu-related hospitalizations so far in Dane County this flu season. Last year at this same time we had seen just three.

“Everyone older than six months should get a flu shot now if they have not already. It takes about two weeks for the full effectiveness of the vaccine to set in. That should give people great protection for the upcoming holiday season, when people are more likely to go to events, parties and loved ones’ homes,” says Diane McHugh, Immunization Coordinator for Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC).

“It’s important to think about protecting yourself by getting your flu shot, but we want to stress that we’re all around vulnerable people, especially this time of year, who we can protect by getting immunized. That’s people like your little newborn niece, or your dad, who has heart disease. It’s also your co-worker who is immune-compromised because they’ve just had radiation treatment, or your cousin who has diabetes. All those folks are more likely to develop complications from the flu that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death,” continues McHugh.

According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC), people at high risk for developing flu-related complications are:

  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old,
  • Adults 65 years of age and older,
  • Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum),
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, and
  • Also, American Indians and Alaskan Natives seem to be at higher risk.
  • People with:
    • Asthma,
    • Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions,
    • Chronic lung disease,
    • Heart disease,
    • Blood disorders,
    • Endocrine disorders (like diabetes),
    • Kidney disorders,
    • Liver disorders,
    • Metabolic disorders,
    • Weakened immune system due to disease or medication,
    • People younger than 19 who are on long-term aspirin therapy, and
    • People with extreme obesity.

Flu vaccine is readily available at clinics and pharmacies. For those without health insurance, PHMDC can help. Free flu shots are offered by appointment for adults and children without health insurance, and children who have Medical Assistance/Forward Card. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (608) 266-4821.


  • Sarah Mattes, (608) 242-6414
Health & Safety