For Immediate Release
Contact: Mike Heideman, 785-296-4363
Each year, between about 15 million and 60 million people are infected with the seasonal influenza virus. An estimated 200,000 are hospitalized and about 36,000 people in the U.S. die each year from influenza and its complications. Influenza-pneumonia claims the lives of more than 1,000 Kansans every year. It is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death in the United States.
November 26 through December 2 is National Influenza Vaccination Week. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that almost anyone who wants to reduce their risk of catching the flu receive the yearly flu vaccination.
“Young children and older adults are especially vulnerable to complications of flu, and being vaccinated is particularly important for them,” said Sue Bowden of the Kansas Immunization Program. “Immunization of other age groups reduces the incidence of the disease, thus further protecting the more vulnerable age groups.”
Anyone without medical contraindications can get vaccinated against seasonal flu. KDHE and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) especially recommend that the following groups receive a flu shot each year:
Certain groups of people should not be vaccinated:
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. Symptoms of the flu include: fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, and muscle aches. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of other chronic conditions.
“Influenza vaccination is important for all age groups,” stated Bowden. “There is still time during the flu season for getting the vaccine to prove beneficial to children and anyone else.”
Ways to avoid spreading flu virus include covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands, and staying home when sick. Persons who contract the flu should get plenty of rest, drink a lot of water, and avoid using alcohol and tobacco. Take a non-aspirin pain reliever to help reduce fever. Over-the-counter products may be effective to alleviate cough and body aches. Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to help treat the flu. Antiviral treatment should be taken exactly as prescribed.
Kansas participates in a sentinel surveillance program with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) every flu season to monitor the level of flu activity in Kansas. As of November 17, the state had not reported any flu activity to CDC. Missouri and Nebraska have also not reported any flu activity yet this year; Colorado and Oklahoma reported sporadic flu activity.
For more information about flu, please visit www.kdheks.gov/flu/ or www.cdc.gov/flu/.