It’s still not too late for flu vaccine, says KDHE

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment recently shipped 8,000 doses of flu vaccine to several local health departments around the state to help ensure that sufficient quantities of vaccine are available in areas that need it most.

KDHE received 8,000 doses of flu vaccine from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and then surveyed local health departments across the state to determine where additional vaccine was needed.

In addition, KDHE received 1,000 doses of Flu Mist and has provided a total of 425 doses of the nasal spray vaccine to Morris, Johnson and Wyandotte county health departments.

The state is restricted by CDC on its distribution of the vaccine and can provide it only to public health and other public entities.

“Equal distribution of flu vaccine throughout the state and nation has been a problem this year even though a near record amount of vaccine has been available this flu season nationally,” said Roderick L. Bremby, KDHE secretary. “By providing these additional doses throughout the state, there is an opportunity for more people get protected from the flu this year.”

“It’s important to remember that it’s not too late to get your flu shot, even up until the first of the year,” said Howard Rodenberg, Division of Health Director.

“In Kansas, we see an increase in cases right after the holidays and then a peak in cases between January and March.

“We especially encourage those individuals who are considered high-risk, or more vulnerable for severe complications of the flu, to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Rodenberg added.

The following individuals are considered high-risk:

  • people 65 years of age and older;
  • children ages 6 months to 23 months;
  • adults and children 2 years of age and older with chronic lung or heart disorders including heart disease or asthma;
  • pregnant women;
  • adults and children 2 years of age and older with chronic metabolic diseases (including diabetes), kidney diseases, blood disorders (such as sickle cell anemia), or weakened immune systems, including persons with HIV/AIDS;
  • children and teenagers, 6 months to 18 years of age, who take aspirin daily;
  • residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities;
  • household members and out-of-home caregivers of infants under the age of 6 months (children under the age of 6 months cannot be vaccinated).
  • Health-care workers who provide direct, hands-on patient care with regular frequency to the priority group patients listed above;

“A critical component to help prevent getting the flu or spreading the flu is handwashing,” said Gail Hansen, state epidemiologist.

“We shouldn’t overlook the value of this activity in preventing the spread of influenza. And we must take time to do it right. That means rubbing your hands together for 20 seconds under warm water with soap.”

Steps the public can take to avoid catching or spreading the flu:

  • Proper and frequent hand washing with soap and warm water.
  • Stay home from school or work when sick.
  • Cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay healthy: eat healthy foods, stay active, avoid tobacco products and get plenty of rest.
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