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Flu shots urged as season peaks
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With the number of influenza cases increasing nationwide and the flu season beginning to peak, local, state and national health officials urge those who haven’t had their flu shots to get vaccinated.

"Influenza vaccine is still available at Barton County Health Department and we encourage community members who have not received a flu vaccine this season to get one now to protect themselves and their families during the peak of the flu season," said Lily Akings, health department administrator. "It’s not too late to prevent this serious illness and its complications."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 25 states including Kansas reported "widespread" cases of the flu as of the end of last week. In that time frame, the CDC reported over 1,700 cases of the disease.

In addition, reports of influenza-like illness from surveillance sites throughout Kansas have lead KDHE to report flu activity to be at a "widespread" level. The 2009 H1N1 virus, as well as strains of influenza A and B, are circulating.

"Although each influenza season is unpredictable, we typically see the peak in February," said Robert Moser M.D., secretary of KDHE. "Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, and those around you, from getting influenza and potentially becoming sick for a week or longer."

KDHE and the CDC recommend everyone six months and older receive the flu vaccine. People at high risk of serious influenza complications, including young children; pregnant women; people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older, should make getting vaccinated a priority.

Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness and its symptoms include sudden onset of fever, sore throat, muscle aches and non-productive cough. More serious illness can result if pneumonia occurs. Influenza is spread by direct contact with an infected person or by airborne droplets that produce infection when they are inhaled or ingested off the hands.

To reduce the spread of influenza, it is also important to practice the 3 C’s:

• Clean – properly wash your hands frequently

• Cover – cover your cough and sneeze

• Contain – contain your germs by staying home if you are sick

For more information about seasonal flu, visit