- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Local and state health officials are reminding the public that now is a good time to get a flu shot for anyone who hasn’t gotten one already.
“Flu shots are still available,” said Jennifer Osbourne, the senior health education director at the Marion County Health Department. “It’s not too late to get a flu shot.”
Osbourne said multiple cases of the flu have been confirmed in Marion County although she did not have specific numbers.
According to the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the flu is now considered widespread throughout Kentucky, which means influenza-like illnesses and laboratory-confirmed cases have been found in at least half the regions of the state.
While Marion County Schools have not had to close due to excessive absences, Osbourne said she knows there are schools and school districts that have had to take that step.
To help prevent the spread of the flu, Osbourne recommended three steps:
1. Get a flu shot
2. Wash your hands regularly. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
3. If you are sick, stay home. Do not go to work, school or family functions if you are likely to spread your illness.
The Centers for Disease Control also recommends avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth as this increases the spread of germs. Also, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue away.
Experts believe the flu virus spreads through droplets made when people cough, sneeze or talk.
Symptoms of the flu include feeling feverish, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue, according to the CDC. A few people may also experience vomiting and diarrhea.
More than 200,000 people are hospitalized annually as a result of complications from the seasonal flu, and approximately 23,000 deaths occur nationwide each year due to the flu.
The CDC noted that flu activity can last from October to March, but peak activity typically occurs in January or later. The public should also remember that it takes two weeks for immunity to develop after receiving the flu vaccine, This year’s vaccine protects against the most common strains during the season, including influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2) and an influenza B virus.
Flu vaccines are recommended for anyone 6 months or older, according to the CDC. Vaccines are specifically recommended for certain high-risk groups. These are:
- Children 5 years old or younger, especially for children 2 years old and younger
- Adults 65 and older
- American Indians and Native Alaskans
- People with specific medical conditions such as asthma, neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, chronic lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders, endocrine disorders, kidney disorders, liver disorders, metabolic disorders, weakened immune systems, people 19 and younger who are on long-term aspirin therapy, and people with a body mass index of 40 or higher.
“Flu shots are so much more readily available today, we don’t care where people get them – we just want people immunized,” Paula Alexander, the Health Department’s director, told the Frankfort State Journal.
A few groups of people should not be vaccinated, however. These include people with severe allergies to eggs, people who have previously had severe reactions to a vaccine, people who are experiencing moderate or severe illness, and people with a history of Guillian-Barre Syndrome.
Local and state health officials are also encouraging the public get a pneumococcal vaccine as well. This is particularly recommended for individuals 65 and older or individuals who are at high risk for infection.
For more information about the flu, visit www.cdc.gov/FLU or kyhealthalerts.gov.