Who could get the flu from you? This fall, the Northern Kentucky Health Department is asking residents to protect themselves and those they care about from seasonal influenza by getting an annual flu vaccine.
“For many people, the flu is just an inconvenience, requiring a few days off of school or work and suffering through a low-grade fever and a few aches and pains,” said Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health. “But for other groups, including very young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions, the flu can cause serious illness and can even be life threatening. Getting vaccinated will protect not only you, but those at risk around you.”
The flu vaccine is widely available in the community, offered by 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 is offering flu vaccine by appointment at its four county health centers, listed below. The Health Department will offer the quadrivalent vaccine, which protects against four strains of the flu virus.
- Boone County Health Center, 7505 Burlington Pike, Florence, Ky., 859.363.2060
- Campbell County Health Center, 1098 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 859.431.1704
- Grant County Health Center, 234 Barnes Road, Williamstown, Ky., 859.824.5074
- Kenton County Health Center, 2002 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859.431.3345
Cost is $25, but no one will be turned away for inability to pay. The cost of flu vaccine is covered by Medicaid and the federal program Vaccine for Children for those who are eligible. 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.
“Some flu activity has already been reported in Northern Kentucky and other parts of the state,” said Saddler. “While we can’t predict what this flu season will bring, it is important to get vaccinated as soon as you are able. One thing that has changed is that only injectable vaccines should be given this year. Nasal spray vaccines are not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because of concerns about their effectiveness.”
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. An annual flu vaccine is important as the strains covered in the vaccine change from year-to-year, and 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 for those strains of the flu expected to circulate this season.
“Protection from flu doesn’t stop with vaccination,” said Saddler. “Everyday measures to prevent the spread of disease are also important. This includes things like washing hands often with soap and water; covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; avoiding people who are sick when possible, and staying home when you are sick. If you do become ill with symptoms of flu, including fever and fatigue, contact your health care provider to see if it is appropriate to use anti-viral medications, as these have been shown to limit severe complications from flu.”
Influenza is a serious disease that results in tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations every year. During the 2015-2016 flu season, more than 1,800 cases were reported in Northern Kentucky, and three deaths were attributed to complications from the flu. 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 click here.