Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
November 16, 2015

Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-9356 
Flu Activity Slowly Increasing Statewide

DHHS stresses vaccination as your best protection against the flu

Note: Picture of CEO Courtney Phillips receiving flu shot along with other snapshots of Nebraskans getting vaccinated are below. Sound bites on this topic are available at

Lincoln - Flu activity is slowly increasing and it’s only a matter of time before we’ll see more cases in Nebraska. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services encourages to people to get vaccinated as soon as possible, if they haven’t already.

“Flu vaccine not only protects you, but your family, friends and coworkers as well,” said Courtney Phillips, CEO for DHHS. “That’s why I get a flu shot every season and encourage others to do so too.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated.

“Vaccination plays a critical role in the fight against the flu. It can reduce flu-related illnesses, visits to the doctor, missed work and school and flu-related hospitalizations,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist.  “We’ve still got a little lead time before cases really ramp up. Take advantage of it and make sure getting a flu shot is at the top of your to-do list.”

While flu can make anyone sick, certain people are at greater risk for serious complications, and it’s especially important they receive vaccine:

  • Young children
  • Adults 65 years of age or older
  • Pregnant women
  • People with chronic lung disease (like asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurologic conditions and certain other long-term health conditions
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

Severe cases of flu can lead to hospitalization and even death. There were 84 flu-related deaths in Nebraska last season.

The severity and the length of flu seasons vary, but flu season in the U.S. typically peaks between December and February.

Flu vaccine is safe, effective and rigorously tested. The most common reaction is soreness and redness at the injection site.  If you don’t like needles, FluMist is a nasal spray that may be available for healthy people 2-49 years old. After you’re vaccinated, it takes about two weeks for your body to build immunity.

For the 2014-2015 flu season, Nebraska ranked fourth in the nation with 54 percent flu vaccination coverage for people 6 months of age and older. The national flu vaccination coverage estimate for last season was 47.1 percent.

DHHS officially started flu surveillance Oct. 4. Surveillance shows where the flu is and how fast it’s spreading across the state.

DHHS uses multiple surveillance systems to track flu viruses, including sentinel physicians who report the number of people with flu-like illness weekly, lab tests, school surveillance, hospital data, emergency department data and death reporting.

For more flu information, visit the DHHS website at or

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DHHS CEO, Courtney Phillips gets her flu shot.




Maximus just got vaccinated and is ready for flu season.

Ben flashes a smile before receiving his flu shot.





Danny, a DHHS Veterans' Home member, receives his flu vaccine.