TOPEKA -- With flu activity increasing and family and friends gathering for the holidays, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) urges all Kansans to receive an annual flu vaccination to protect themselves and their loved ones.
December 2-8 is “National Influenza Vaccination Week.” This observance serves as a reminder that all of us have a responsibility to prevent the spread of influenza. Influenza activity usually peaks in February in the U.S. and can last as late as May. Through our sentinel surveillance network, Kansas has identified two different types of influenza viruses currently circulating, and influenza activity is increasing within the state.
On average, five to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts the flu yearly, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu complications. During the 2011-2012 influenza season, influenza and pneumonia, a common complication of influenza, contributed to or directly caused more than 1,300 deaths among Kansas residents, and was the eighth leading underlying cause of death in 2011.
“Flu season is here and before it becomes widespread, take the opportunity to get your vaccine now,” said Robert Moser, M.D., KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. “Getting a flu vaccination is also a great way to protect those who are at high risk.”
In addition to getting vaccinated, avoid spreading the flu virus by covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands and staying home when you are sick. Symptoms of the flu include: fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough and muscle aches. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections and dehydration; the flu might also worsen other chronic conditions.
Nearly all persons six months and older are recommended to receive a flu vaccine. Anyone caring for, or in regular contact with, an infant less than six months of age should also be immunized. Babies this age are too young to be vaccinated and are more vulnerable to the complications from influenza disease, as are pregnant women, people with asthma, heart disease, and diabetes along with adults over the age of 65.
For information on receiving the flu vaccine, please contact your health care provider or the local health department. Visit www.kdheks.gov/flu for influenza facts.