The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department recommends everyone at least 6 months old get a flu vaccination. 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 five and 20 percent of the population may contract influenza each year. Influenza symptoms include fever, dry cough, extreme tiredness and muscle aches. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections and dehydration, and influenza may also exacerbate other chronic health conditions.
According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, influenza or pneumonia contributed to or was the direct cause of just more than 1,400 deaths among Kansas residents during the 2018-19 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 the flu.
Clinic Supervisor Kathy Colson said it is important to get vaccinated to not only protect yourself but also your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.
“People can be infected with the flu virus and not be showing symptoms,” she said. “During this time, those infected can still spread the virus to others.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting vaccinated as soon as possible, ideally by the end of October, because it generally 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.
Additionally, the Health Department offered four community flu vaccination clinics earlier in October in Baldwin City, Eudora, Lecompton and Lawrence.
Good health habits also are an important way to prevent the flu:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick. The CDC recommends you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
- Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.