As the flu continues to make its presence felt across Kansas and much of the nation, the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK) says there is still time to protect yourself by getting the flu vaccination.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports an increase in influenza activity and flu associated deaths across the United States. In addition, the number of people being hospitalized for the flu is the highest since the H1N1 pandemic in 2009.

“We have seen an increase in flu activity in southeast Kansas especially within the last month,” said Dr. Linda Bean, CHC/SEK Chief Medical Officer. “Each flu season is different but this is certainly the worst we’ve had in a while.”

Dr. Bean went on to say this season is far from over as the CDC expects flu activity to remain high for several weeks. She emphasized the importance of getting a yearly flu vaccine adding it is not too late.

“It is definitely not too late to get vaccinated especially while the flu is still spreading,” said Dr. Bean. “We’ve seen flu outbreaks happen as late as April or May so you still have an opportunity to protect yourself.”

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older receive the annual vaccine. It is particularly important for those who are at high risk for developing serious complications from the flu such as pregnant women, young children, the elderly and anyone with chronic health conditions like asthma.

While some may be discouraged by concerns over the effectiveness of this year’s vaccine, Dr. Bean stresses that should not deter them from getting vaccinated.

“It’s important to remember that even if you still end up getting the flu, the vaccine can protect you against more serious or life-threatening complications as a result,” she said. “It can also help prevent you from spreading it to others.”

The vaccine is available during normal clinic hours and with no appointment needed at the following CHC/SEK clinic locations:

 3011 N. Michigan in Pittsburg

 2990 Military Ave. in Baxter Springs

 120 W. Pine in Columbus

 801 W. 8th St. in Coffeyville

 1408 East St. in Iola

 2100 Commerce Drive in Parsons

 3751 W. Main in Independence

Cost for the vaccination is $25 with no out-of-pocket cost for those with Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. Children 18 and under who do not have insurance coverage can receive the vaccination at no cost as well.

For more information, call 620-231-9873 or contact the CHC/SEK clinic location nearest you.

About Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas

Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK) is a non-profit Federally Qualified Health Center dedicated to providing affordable, high quality medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and outreach services to southeast Kansas and the region. For more information, visit www.chcsek.org.