Now is the time to get flu vaccine, state health officials warn

State public health officials are encouraging Kentuckians to be vaccinated for flu now to reduce the spread of the illness. Steve Davis, M.D., acting commissioner of the Department for Public Health, said in a news release, “Getting the flu vaccine each year is the best way to protect against the flu’s spread and severity.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends flu vaccine for anyone older than 6 months. People who should especially receive the flu vaccine, because they may be at higher risk for complications or negative consequences, include:
• Children age 6 months to 19 years;
• Pregnant women;
• People 50 years old 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; and
• Out-of-home caregivers of or people who live with children less than 6 months old.

Healthy, non-pregnant people age 2-49 years can get either the flu shot or the nasal vaccine spray. Children younger than 9 who are being vaccinated against flu for the first time should receive a second dose four or more weeks after their first vaccination.

Flu is a very contagious disease caused by a virus. About 23,000 Americans die from seasonal flu and its complications in an average year, but actual numbers vary from year to year.

In addition to the flu vaccine, officials encourage 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 www.healthalerts.ky.gov.

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