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MADISON – With influenza (flu) cases on the rise in Wisconsin and nationally, the state Department of Health Services (DHS) urges residents to get their flu vaccinations right away.

The most recent data compiled by the DHS shows that Wisconsin is among 43 states reporting high levels of flu activity.

flu map
Influenza (flu) is spreading throughout the country as illustrated by this map poster in the window of a Racine Walgreens pharmacy this week. The Wisconsin DHS urges residents to get their flu vaccinations right away and before taking part in holiday gatherings. – Credit: Paul Holley

Meanwhile, as of last week (Dec. 8), only 31 percent of state residents had received their single-dose flu vaccination.

Flu vaccination highly encouraged

“The best way to protect yourself and those around you from the flu is to get your annual flu vaccination,” Dr. Jasmine Zapata, Chief Medical Officer of the DHS Bureau of Community Health Promotion, said in a news release.

“Everyone, six months and older, can get their flu vaccine today. This is especially important for those at highest risk of experiencing severe symptoms, including older people, people with chronic health conditions, people who are pregnant, and young children. But even if you are not at higher risk, getting the flu vaccine can help you from spreading it to others who may get seriously ill.”

Other respiratory viruses, including COVID-19 and RSV, continue to spread in Wisconsin. These viruses spread easily when people are gathered together. While the flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, they are caused by two different viruses and require two different vaccines. Eligible Wisconsinites can get their flu vaccination and updated COVID-19 booster at the same time.

Protecting yourself from flu, other respiratory illnesses

In addition to getting vaccinated, DHS recommends that residents take simple actions to increase your protection and help keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched often at home, work, and school.
  • Avoid being around people who are sick.
  • Wear a high-quality mask to protect yourself and those around you and prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses.

If you become sick with the flu or another respiratory virus, help prevent the spread and protect others by:

  • Staying home when experiencing symptoms, except to get medical care.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and warm water.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

To find out where vaccines are available near you, visit and learn more ways to fight flu on the DHS webpage.

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...