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Advice offered on vaccinations for coming influenza season

From the Kentucky Department for Public Health


State public health officials encourage Kentuckians to get the flu vaccine now to reduce the spread of illness this coming flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending flu vaccine for anyone older than 6 months.

In particular, these groups especially should receive the flu vaccine, because they may be at higher risk for complications from the flu:

• children age 6 months to 19 years
• pregnant women
• people 50 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
• out-of-home caregivers of or people who live with children less than 6 months old
 
Healthy, non-pregnant people ages 2-49 can receive either the flu shot or the nasal vaccine spray. Children younger than 9 years old who are being vaccinated against flu for the first time should receive a second dose four or more weeks after their first vaccination.

Kentuckians should contact their health care provider or local health department for more information.     

Symptoms of the flu include 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. Good health habits also are recommended to prevent illness, like washing hands often with soap and water, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth and staying home from work or school if you are sick.

In addition to the flu vaccine, all adults 65 or older and others in high-risk groups are encouraged to ask their health care providers about the pneumococcal vaccine. This vaccine can help prevent a type of pneumonia, one of the flu’s most serious and potentially deadly complications.

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.

For more information on influenza or the availability of flu vaccine, please contact your local health department or visit http://www.healthalerts.ky.gov/ or contact Barbara Fox at BarbaraJ.Fox@ky.gov.