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Risk from Flu is Real: Get vaccintated

Monday, October 20, 2014

Influenza is a serious health threat in Northern Kentucky: In 2013-2014, more than 1,300 residents were infected, and unfortunately five people died.

“While Ebola cases in the U.S. and its wide spread in Africa are concerning, we must not forget to protect ourselves against more common illnesses, like flu,” said Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health for the Northern Kentucky Health Department. “The flu vaccine offers the best protection against flu, and I encourage everyone age 6 months and older to get one this fall.”

Last year, only 42 percent of the U.S. population was vaccinated for flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coverage rates were slightly high among children under age 5 and adults age 65 and older. Cases of flu last year, however, were more common in adults age 18 to 45, both in Northern Kentucky and nationwide.

“The flu vaccine should be easy to find and cost should not be a barrier,” Saddler said. “There are numerous options for vaccination, with different types of vaccines, including a nasal spray, and convenient locations to receive it, including businesses, retail stores, doctors’ offices and at the Health Department. Plus, as part of the Affordable Care Act, immunizations, including flu, are covered as preventive care, meaning that many people can get vaccinated for little to no cost for the vaccine.”

The Health Department offers flu vaccine by appointment at its four county health centers, listed below.

Cost is $20, but no one will be turned away for inability to pay. Some may have the fees reduced and even eliminated through either a federal program providing vaccines to children or for individuals covered by Medicaid. The Health Department will vaccinate anyone who wishes to receive it, but individuals with private insurance may want to consider getting vaccinated by another provider, as the Health Department does not directly bill private insurance plans.

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after they are administered. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.

“Don’t let the winter months sneak up on you without getting the vaccine,” said Saddler. “We need to get a flu vaccine each year for two reasons: first, the vaccine protects us against the viruses most likely to spread in the upcoming season, and second, a person’s immunity from vaccination can decline over time. A vaccine each year boosts that immunity back up, and provides the best possible protection.”

Influenza is a serious disease that results in tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations every year. The classic symptoms include sudden onset of chills, fever, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, dry cough and extreme fatigue. Children who develop flu symptoms should not be treated with aspirin, as it can lead to Reye’s Syndrome.

For more information on the flu, please visit http://www.nkyhealth.org/Seasonal-Flu.aspx   

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Media Policy
Media representatives should contact Emily Gresham Wherle at 859.344.5470 or Emily.Gresham-Wherle@nkyhealth.org, about any request or information before calling any other Health Department employee. Your calls and requests will be handled expediently with your deadlines in mind. Thank you for your interest and support in educating the community about public health issues.

State of Kentucky News Releases
For statewide news releases, please visit the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.