Get the flu vaccine

Published 9:59 am Monday, January 14, 2019

It’s time to get the flu vaccine if you haven’t already.

Health officials have said time and time again how important it can be. However, those words are more important now than ever before as flu season has hit Kentucky hard.

Through Dec. 29, there were more than 1,450 lab-confirmed cases across the state. Four adult deaths and one pediatric death have now been linked to the flu this season

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These numbers do not include rapid test results nor do they include those with flu-like illnesses who have been diagnosed by their primary care physician as having the flu based on symptoms.

“We strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t received a flu vaccine, particularly children 6 months and older and those people at high risk for complications related to the flu, to get a flu shot,” said Jeff Howard, M.D., commissioner of Department of Public Health.

Health officials have said the flu season typically peaks in mid-February.

Despite the high numbers, the amount of cases is comparable to the number of cases at this time last season.

But not everyone gets the vaccine. In fact, just 38 percent of Kentuckians got the flu shot in 2016-17. The numbers improved slightly among children as 43.5 percent got their flu shot.

That means more half the population is vulnerable to this potentially deadly disease.

With the flu being so widespread, health officials are reminding Kentuckians to be especially aware of the high-risk population, which includes children younger than 5, senior citizens, pregnant women, residents of nursing homes and other long-term facilities and those with chronic illnesses.

Officials said the flu can be highly contagious and cause potentially life-threatening disease. Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches. Those who develop flu symptoms should seek medical advice to determine if they should be treated with an antiviral drug, which could shorten the course of the illness or reduce its severity.

To help stop the spread of the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers these tips:

. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

. While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

. If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine).

. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

And get the flu vaccine.

Richmond Register