Winter has yet to arrive and the flu season is already starting to heat up, local and state health officials say. So, the Barton County Health Department and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment urge all Kansans to get a flu vaccine.
It is important to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu, said Janel Rose, Barton County health educator, especially as you gather with family and friends during the holidays. She stressed that her office there is still plenty of the vaccine available.
National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 6-12, highlights the importance of continuing flu vaccination through the holiday season.
In Kansas, influenza activity typically peaks during the holidays, the KDHE reported. According to data from the Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network, influenza-like illness in Kansas is just below the national rate. To date, there have been no confirmed influenza cases tested by the agency.
The best way to prevent seasonal flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year, Rose said. Everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated against the flu. Vaccination is especially important for those at high risk for complication including young children, pregnant women, adults 65 years and older, and anyone with chronic health conditions. Those caring for, or in regular contact with, an infant less than 6 months of age or persons at high risk for complications should also be immunized.
On average, 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu each year. Last year, 95 people in Kansas died as a direct result of the flu. This was the highest number of influenza deaths in the last 20 years in Kansas. For information about influenza and to find a location to get vaccinated, call the BCHD at 620-793-1902 or visit kdheks.gov/flu/index.html.