It is not too late to get your seasonal influenza vaccination

COLUMBUS - Kansas is now experiencing regional influenza activity, with increased influenza cases in most regions of the state, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). Four outbreaks have been identified so far during the 2017-2018 season, including some in long-term care facilities.

A report released by KDHE said that while there has been an expected uptick in reported cases, influenza activity likely has not yet peaked in Kansas. The report urged folks to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their family members from the flu. While flu vaccine can vary in how well it works, it is the best way to prevent flu illness and serious flu complications, including those that can result in hospitalization. Symptoms of influenza include fever, dry cough, extreme tiredness and muscle aches. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, and dehydration; influenza may also worsen other chronic conditions.

There is also a lot of misinformation circulating about potential hazardous side effects caused by vaccines. Influenza vaccine is recommended for nearly everyone six months of age and older. Receiving the influenza vaccine is especially important for anyone at high risk of complications including babies and young children, older persons, and people with certain chronic conditions. Even if a person is healthy, getting vaccinated protects the people around them. It is important for people caring for young children and those caring for persons with medical conditions, who are at a higher risk of severe complications, to get vaccinated.

The CDC recommends these tips to help prevent influenza:

1. Avoid close contact

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2. Stay home when you are sick

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

3. Cover your mouth and nose

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

4. Clean your hands

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth

Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6. Practice other good health habits

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Depending on the severity of the influenza season, 5-20 percent of the population may get influenza each year. During the peak of the 2016-2017 influenza season in Kansas, approximately 10 percent of all health care visits were due to influenza-like illness in the clinics where KDHE conducts surveillance for flu. Influenza was the direct cause of 99 deaths and may have contributed to an additional 1,108 among Kansas residents during the 2016-2017 influenza season. Additional ways to avoid spreading influenza include covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands and staying home when sick.

For information on receiving the influenza vaccine, please contact your health care provider or the local health department. Visit for additional information about the flu.