For Immediate Release
Mike Heideman, 785-296-4363
January 10-16 is National Influenza Vaccination Week, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is reminding residents that getting vaccinated is the best defense against H1N1. In particular, children ages six months through 9 years, pregnant women and people who care for infants younger than six months are recommended to be vaccinated against the pandemic H1N1 flu virus.
“It is essential that families take steps to protect their youngest members from pandemic H1N1 flu, because they are at greater risk,” said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, Kansas State Health Officer and Director of the Division of Health at KDHE. “Women who are pregnant are also at higher risk and should get vaccinated.”
To maximize effectiveness of the vaccine for children ages six months through 9 years, two doses must be administered. The second dose should be given four weeks after the first. Because no flu vaccine is effective for infants six months of age and younger, caregivers should be vaccinated in order to protect the infant against the spread of the virus.
Pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized if they catch H1N1 flu and should therefore be vaccinated. When a pregnant woman gets a flu shot, it can protect both her and her baby. Caregivers of infants under six months born to a mother who was vaccinated while pregnant should still be vaccinated against H1N1.
The Kansas Immunization Program (KIP) at KDHE has facilitated the shipment of 868,700 doses of vaccine since October 1 to public health departments, health care providers and retail pharmacies across the state. Up-to-date information on H1N1 vaccination clinics being held in Kansas can be found by going to www.kdheks.gov and clicking on “Where can I receive the H1N1vaccine?”
The symptoms of infection with the pandemic H1N1 virus are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu and include fever of 100 degrees or greater, body aches, coughing, sore throat, respiratory congestion, and in some cases, diarrhea and vomiting.
KDHE has established a phone number for concerned Kansans to call with questions about the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus. The toll-free number is 1-877-427-7317. Operators will be available to answer questions from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Persons calling will be directed to press “1” on their touch-tone phone to be directed to an operator who can answer questions. Kansans can also email H1N1fluinfo@kdheks.gov, or visit www.kdheks.gov.