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State public health officials are encouraging Kentuckians to get a flu vaccination during National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 8-14, to reduce the spread of illness this holiday season.
“Getting a flu vaccination is a holiday gift you can give now to yourself and your family,” said William Hacker, M.D., commissioner of public health. “Many people visit relatives with small children or those at high risk of complications from flu around this time of year. Receiving a flu vaccination is an opportunity to protect against the flu’s spread and severity.”
National Influenza Vaccination Week is a week-long observation that serves as a reminder to those people who have not yet received a flu vaccination that the time to get vaccinated continues into winter – through January or later, when flu season typically peaks. Throughout the week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will highlight the importance of vaccination for those people at high risk, their close contacts and all those who want to be protected against the flu. In addition, good health habits such as washing hands often with soap and water, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth and staying home from work or school when sick will also be emphasized.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) updated recommendations for this year’s flu season include:
Annual vaccination of all children age 5-18 years.
• Children age 6 months through 4 years continue to be a primary focus of yearly vaccination efforts because these children are at a higher risk for flu complications compared with older children.
• Children age 6 months to 8 years should receive two doses of vaccine if they have not been vaccinated previously.
• Healthy, non-pregnant people age 2 to 49 years can receive either the flu shot or the nasal vaccine spray.
Immunization is also strongly recommended to protect Kentuckians 65 and older and those with a chronic disease such as heart disease, cancer, asthma or diabetes. Healthy individuals 50 to 64 are also strongly encouraged to receive the flu vaccine.
Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches. Flu is responsible for approximately 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths annually in the U..S.
In addition to flu vaccine, officials encouraged all adults 65 or older and others in high-risk groups to ask their health care provider about the pneumococcal vaccine. This vaccine can help prevent a type of pneumonia, one of the flu’s most serious and potentially deadly complications.
For more information on influenza or the availability of flu vaccine, please contact your local health department or visit the Department for Public Health’s flu Web site at www.chfs.ky.gov/dph/Influenza.htm.