It's not too late to vaccinate

Flu and pneumonia killed 1,400 in Kansas last year

With flu activity increasing and family and friends gathering for the holidays, Kansas Department of Health and Environment is urging all Kansans to receive a flu vaccine this week.

Dec. 8-14 is National Influenza Vaccination Week, KDHE said in a press release. It said the recognition should be a reminder that everyone is responsible for preventing the spread of influenza. Based on data from the Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network, flu activity currently is low in the state. However, flu activity usually increases this time of year before peaking in January or February.

On average, 5 to 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year, with more than 200,000 people hospitalized because of complications. Influenza and pneumonia contributed to the death of 1,444 Kansans in the 2012-13 influenza season.

“Flu season is here, and before it becomes widespread, take the opportunity to get your vaccine now,” said Dr. Robert Moser, KDHE secretary. “Getting a flu vaccination is also a great way to protect those who are at high risk.”

Nearly everyone 6 months or older is urged to get a flu vaccine every year. Vaccination is especially important to protect those at high risk of complications, including young children, pregnant women, adults 65 or older, and anyone with chronic health conditions like asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.

People caring for or in regular contact with babies younger than 6 months should also be immunized, because babies that age are too young to be vaccinated and are more vulnerable to complications from influenza.

In addition to getting a vaccine, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands, and staying home when sick are steps people can take to avoid spreading the flu.

Symptoms of influenza include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, and muscle aches. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, and dehydration.

People seeking a vaccine should contact their health care provider or Marion County Health Department at (620) 382-2550.

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