FRANKFORT – State public health officials are encouraging Kentuckians to get a flu vaccination during National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 5-11, to reduce the spread of illness this holiday season.
“Getting a flu vaccine is a holiday gift you can give now to yourself and your family,” said William Hacker, M.D., commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH). “Many people visit relatives with small children or those at high risk of complications from flu around this time of year. Getting a flu vaccine is an opportunity to protect against the flu’s spread and severity.”
National Influenza Vaccination Week is a week-long observation that serves as a reminder to those people who have not yet received a flu vaccine that the time to get vaccinated continues into winter – through January or later, when flu season typically peaks. Throughout the week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will highlight the importance of vaccinations for those people at high risk, their close contacts and all those who want to be protected against the flu.
In addition, good health habits such as washing hands often with soap and water, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth and staying home from work or school when sick will also be emphasized.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is now recommending flu vaccine for all individuals older than 6 months of age.
People who should especially receive the flu vaccine, because they may be at higher risk for complications or negative consequences include:
•Children age 6 months to 19 years.
• Pregnant women.
• People 50 years old or older.
• People of any age with chronic health problems.
• People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
• Health care workers.
• Caregivers of or people who live with a person at high risk for complications from the flu and out-of-home caregivers of or people who live with children less than 6 months old.
Healthy, non-pregnant people aged 2-49 years can receive either the flu shot or the nasal vaccine spray.
Kentucky is currently seeing regional flu activity across the state, with circulating flu strains that are components of this year’s flu vaccine. Local health departments and private health care providers have plenty of flu vaccine on hand for this year’s season. Kentuckians should contact their health care provider or local health department for more information.
Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches.
Flu is a very contagious disease caused by the flu virus, which spreads from person to person.
Approximately 23,000 deaths due to seasonal flu and its complications occur on average each year in the U.S., according to recently updated estimates from the CDC. However, actual numbers of deaths vary from year to year.
In addition to the flu vaccine, officials encourage all adults 65 or older and others in high-risk groups to ask their health care provider about the pneumococcal vaccine. This vaccine can help prevent a type of pneumonia, one of the flu’s most serious and potentially deadly complications.
For more information on influenza or the availability of flu vaccine, please contact your local health department at 543-2415.