Influenza season is here in Kansas. While activity remains low, influenza cases have already been seen in Kansas.
The flu vaccine remains the best way to prevent flu illness and serious flu complications, including those that can result in hospitalization and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends receiving the vaccine before influenza activity begins in your community, ideally by the end of October.
"Early indications say the flu may hit a little harder this year, so it's very important to start thinking about getting the vaccine," said Dr. Joan Duwve, State Health Officer at KDHE. "The good news is you don't need two separate appointments; you can get your flu and COVID vaccines at the same time!"
KDHE monitors flu activity, including the percentage of emergency department visits and deaths attributable to influenza. During the 2021-2022 flu season, influenza was a contributing or direct cause of death in 44 deaths. Pneumonia, which often develops with influenza infections, was a contributing or direct cause of death in 1,200 deaths. Severe influenza infection and symptoms may be avoided with vaccination.
"The influenza vaccine is recommended for nearly everyone six months of age or older. Being vaccinated against influenza is especially important for anyone at high risk of complications, including babies and young children, pregnant women, older persons and people with certain chronic conditions," said Duwve.
Kansans can start getting their vaccine from their health care provider, at local pharmacies, health departments and some medical clinics.
Getting vaccinated also protects people around you. Getting vaccinated is important for persons caring for young children, adults over 65, and those caring for persons with certain medical conditions. Most people who get the flu recover within a few days to less than two weeks, but some people can develop complications like pneumonia which could lead to hospitalization and be life-threatening.
Find a flu vaccine by visiting vaccines.gov. For the latest on Kansas influenza news, visit kdhe.ks.gov/flu.