Flu Bug May Bite Early

Topeka (WIBW) - If early indications hold, Dr. Jo-Ann Harris anticipates we could be in for an interesting flu season.

Harris is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Topeka's Stormont-Vail HealthCare. Already, she's seen infants come in positive for the respiratory ailment RSV. The hospital says it's also recorded less than a handful of influenza patients. In addition to those, both Stormont and Topeka's St. Francis Health Center say they've had people come in complaining of flu-like symptoms.

The best way to protect yourself during flu season is with an influenza vaccination. Harris says she agrees with the CDC recommendation to get your flu shot as soon as you can.

This year, the flu vaccine is recommended for all people six months of age and older. Plus, only one needle will be needed for most. This year's formula includes the H1N1 strain. Each year, health experts predict which will be the three most active influenza strains and include them in the vaccine. Harris says H1N1 surfaced too late last year to be included in the vaccine.

To double your dose of protection, good habits will go a long way. Harris says other viruses circulate along with full-blown influenza, so wash your hands frequently, cough into your sleeve and don't go places if you have flu-like illness.

This year, there is a new, higher-dose vaccine for patients aged 65 and older. Harris says, right now, there is no solid evidence it is any more effective than the regular flu vaccine, so people should talk to their doctor about whether they should consider it. It does have greater potential side effects than the regular vaccine.

KDHE will begin its weekly reporting of flu activity in the state the week ending Oct. 9. A spokesperson said Thursday that they have not seen positive influenza tests since May.

People with flu-related questions may contact Stormont-Vail's special "Flu Line" at (785) 354-6789.

Topeka Flu Shot Clinics
Drive Thru
Oct. 12-21
9 am to 3 pm, Tues-Thurs
Parking garage under Stormont-Vail Surgical Suites, 900 block SW Garfield

Walk In
Oct. 26-Nov. 11
9 am to 4 pm, Tues-Thurs
Cotton-O’Neil Heart Center
929 SW Mulvane St.
**For Cotton-O'Neil patients only

Shawnee Co. Health Agency
3 to 7 pm, Oct. 19
Kansas Expocentre
One Expocentre Dr.

Cost: $30
Some insurance plans accepted, including:
Blue Cross Blue Shield

Tallgrass Immediate Care
Thru Oct. 8
1 to 5 pm, Tues/Wed
3 to 7 pm, Thursdays
601 SW Corporate View
Cost: $25

St. Francis Health Center
Patients can schedule vaccinations with their primary care doctors, or another doctor in their system, starting in mid-October

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