Public-health officials are encouraging Kentuckians to get a flu vaccine now because it takes about two weeks for immunity to develop and offer protection against the flu, but also notes that flu vaccines can be given any time during the flu season. Individuals need a new flu vaccination each season for optimal protection.
“Getting the flu can be debilitating and sometimes life-threatening, and vaccination is the best tool we have to prevent illness. It’s also extremely important to take simple preventive steps to avoid it,” Health Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield said in a news release. “You should also follow the advice your parents gave you to prevent flu and other illnesses that tend to circulate at this time of year – wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and stay home when you’re sick.”
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends flu vaccine for every American 6 months and older. People who are strongly encouraged to receive the vaccine because they may be at higher risk for complications or negative consequences, include:
• Children, age 6 months through 4 years;
• Pregnant women;
• People 50 years old or older;
• People 6 months and older with chronic health problems;
• People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
• Health-care workers, household contacts and caregivers or people who live with a person at high risk for complications from the flu; and
• Out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months old.
Healthy, non-pregnant people aged 2-49 years can get the flu shot or the nasal vaccine spray. Children younger than 9 who are being vaccinated against the flu for the first time, or have only received one flu vaccination in the past, should receive a second dose four or more weeks after their first vaccination.
Those aged 65 and older can request a higher dose vaccine, but are encouraged to get the regular dose if the higher dose is unavailable. This age group and those in high-risk groups are also encouraged to ask their health care providers about the pneumococcal vaccines, which helps prevent a type of pneumonia, one of the flu’s most serious and potentially deadly complications.
“Between 3,000 and 49,000 flu-associated deaths occur nationally each year, with more than 90 percent of those deaths occurring in people aged 65 years and older,” says the release.
For more information on influenza or the availability of flu vaccine, please contact your local health department or visit http://healthalerts.ky.gov.