The best way to protect against the flu is to receive a flu vaccine, and it’s best to get vaccinated early because the vaccine takes about two weeks to work, the department says. Still, you can get a flu vaccine at any time during the flu season.
“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 press release. “You should also follow the advice your mother 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.”
While the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone over six months old get a flu shot, they especially recommend that these types of people get one because they may be at higher risk:
• 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 flu complications
• Caregivers of or people who live with children less than six months old
You should get a flu vaccination, which is available in either a shot form or a nasal vaccine spray, each season for “optimal protection,” says the release. The spray is recommended for “healthy, non-pregnant people aged 2 through 49,” and is the best choice for children 2 to 8, but parents should get the shot for their child if the spray is not available.
The CDC also recommends that children under 9 who did not get a flu shot during the previous season get a second dose four or more weeks after their first vaccination.
A high-dose flu vaccine, designed to provide better protection against the flu, is available this year for those 65 and older, says the release. This age group should also ask their health care provider about the pneumococcal vaccines, which helps to prevent a type of pneumonia, one of the flu’s most serious and potentially deadly complications.
Flu and resulting pneumonia cause between 20,000 and 40,000 deaths nationally each year, with more than 90 percent of those deaths occurring in people age 65 and older, the release says. For more information on the flu or the availability of flu vaccine, contact your local health department or visit http://healthalerts.ky.gov.