For the first time, health officials are recommending all children and teens, ages 6 months through 18 years, be vaccinated.
Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is encouraging Kansans to get immunized against the flu. This flu season, KDHE and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are making the recommendation.
Although almost anyone can receive the vaccine, the earlier recommendation for children had included only children ages 6 months to 4 years as a priority group. However, the incidence of influenza among school-aged children is high, and children have been identified as a significant source for spreading disease to more vulnerable populations.
The flu season in Kansas begins in early October and can last until as late as early May. Flu viruses (also called influenza viruses) are passed from person-to-person by coughing and sneezing, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching the nose or mouth. Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, and muscle aches. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic conditions such as asthma.
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each fall.
Marion County residents should contact Marion County Health Department or doctor’s office to receive the vaccine. It takes at least two weeks to build immunity after the vaccine is administered.
Everyone is encouraged to receive a vaccination to reduce chances of having the flu but certain people should receive the vaccine every year. Most of these people are recommended for vaccination because they are at a high risk of having serous flu complications or they live with or care for people at high risk for serious complications.
People recommended for vaccination during the 2008-09 flu season are:
- Pregnant women.
- People 50 years of age and older.
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions.
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
- People who live with or care for those at high-risk for complications from flu, including health care workers, household contacts of people at high risk for complications from the flu, and household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to receive the vaccine).
Ways to reduce the risk of spreading flu viruses include the regular washing of hands, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and staying home from work or school if sick. These measures also help prevent many other kinds of infectious diseases.
People who contract the flu should get plenty of rest, drink a lot of water, and avoid using alcohol and tobacco. Take a non-aspirin pain reliever to help reduce fever. Over-the-counter products may be effective to alleviate cough and body aches.