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The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a yearly flu vaccine. Getting the vaccination is the most effective way to avoid getting the flu, a contagious respiratory illness.
Influenza can cause mild to severe symptoms and can lead to hospitalizations and death. During the 2016-17 flu season, influenza was a contributing factor or directly caused 1,205 deaths in Kansas, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Those most at-risk are infants and young children, older adults and pregnant women; however, flu is unpredictable and even healthy children and adults can get flu.
Clinic Supervisor Kathy Colson said it’s not only important to get vaccinated to protect yourself, but also your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. “People can be infected with the flu virus and not be showing symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.”
The CDC recommends getting vaccinated as soon as possible, ideally by the end of October, because it takes two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against the flu virus. While seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time flu activity peaks in January or later.
“Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctor visits and missed work and school due to flu,” Colson said. “It’s the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.”
The Health Department, 200 Maine St., offers flu shots on a walk-in basis during clinic hours. No appointment is necessary. The flu shot is:
The Health Department accepts private insurance, Medicare Part B, Medicaid and KanCare insurance plans.
Good health habits also are an important way to prevent the flu: