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The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age or older. Getting the vaccination is the most effective way to avoid getting the flu, a contagious respiratory illness.
Depending on the severity of the influenza season, between 5 and 20 percent of the population may get influenza each year. Symptoms of influenza include fever, dry cough, extreme tiredness and muscle aches. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections and dehydration; influenza may also worsen other chronic conditions.
According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, influenza or pneumonia contributed to or was the direct cause of nearly 1,600 deaths among Kansas residents during the 2017-18 flu season. 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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.
The Health Department, 200 Maine St., offers flu shots on a walk-in basis during clinic hours. No appointment is necessary. 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: