Posts tagged with Flu

LMH takes precautions against spreading flu

The flu shot vaccine is filled into a syringe.

The flu shot vaccine is filled into a syringe. by Kevin Anderson

Lawrence Memorial Hospital is now requiring its staff to either get a flu vaccination or wear a surgical mask when dealing directly with patients.

Hospital officials say it's a policy recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and one that is based on research showing it helps reduce the spread of influenza. But it's one that has stirred controversy in other parts of the country, including Massachusetts where a statewide nurses union has openly opposed it.

"We did quite a bit of research," said Greg Windholz, director of LHM's Business Health Center. "We don't ever want to change a policy without, one, doing the research and, two, seeing what is going on in the area and what other hospitals are doing."

The CDC has long recommended that health care workers receive flu vaccinations each year. In 2009, it began recommending the use of face masks and respirators in certain settings in response to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus.

Since then, Windholz said, the policy has become a standard practice in most hospitals.

"That's pretty consistent," Windholz said. "There are hospitals that (require) mandatory flu vaccines. If they're not, they require flu vaccines or wearing a mask when doing direct patient care. It's pretty universal now, not only in this area but across the country."

Windholz said LMH formally adopted the policy last fall, and it went into effect recently with the first laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza in Douglas County. He said the policy is only in effect during an active flu outbreak, and it applies only to workers involved in direct patient care who come within six feet of a patient.

Last month, a similar policy adopted by many Massachusetts hospitals sparked opposition from the Massachusetts Nurses Association which posted a statement on its website.

"There is no medical justification for these policies, which are designed to bully nurses and staff to take the flu vaccine regardless of nurses’ medical and/or personal concerns," the statement read.

The new policies are coming in a year when the seasonal flu outbreak is proving to be more widespread than normal.

"It's certainly early, and seems to be more intense than where we were last year," said Charlie Hunt, state epidemiologist at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Hunt said KDHE tracks flu outbreaks through a voluntary reporting system that involves a network of outpatient clinics that report patients complaining of flu-like symptoms. The trends are published on KDHE's Influenza Surveillance website, which shows that in the last week of December, more than 5 percent of all patient visits were related to flu symptoms.

That's far more than the peak of the seasonal flu outbreak in each of the last two years, peaks that normally don't occur until late February or early March.

"Generally speaking, when influenza activity starts to ramp up, it will stay elevated for several weeks, so I would anticipate that if this year's influenza behaves like typical influenza, then we're going to see elevated levels for a while," Hunt said.

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Kansas expects mild flu season but encourages shots

TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas health officials are expecting the state to have another relatively mild flu season, but they're still encouraging shots for nearly everyone 6 months or older.

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Health and Environment Secretary Robert Moser had a Statehouse news conference Monday to promote getting vaccinated. Both received flu shots from a Walgreen Co. pharmacist during the event.

The flu season typically starts in early October, but the state has yet to receive a report of any influenza cases. But Colyer said it's still wise to get a shot to reduce the chances of spreading the illness.

Moser said the state's 2011-12 flu season was relatively mild because the winter weather was warmer than normal. He said the state is expecting the same pattern this winter.

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KU Hospital to offer 5,000 free flu shots during Oct. 20 drive-thru clinic

Kansas University Hospital's main entrance in Kansas City, Kan.

Kansas University Hospital's main entrance in Kansas City, Kan. by Kevin Anderson

Kansas University Hospital will offer free flu shots during its 18th annual Drive-Thru Flu Shot event from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, in the parking lot near 36th Street and Rainbow Boulevard in Kansas City, Kan.

The hospital has 5,000 doses available, and no appointment is necessary.

Those 8 years of age and older are eligible for this vaccination. Everyone under age 18 needs parental consent, and the consent form may be downloaded at www.kumed.com/flu and filled out in advance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that almost everyone receive the flu vaccine.

“Late October to early November is the best time of year for a flu vaccination. Since the body’s immune system takes time to respond to the vaccine, it should be given one to two weeks before the flu season begins in order to stimulate enough antibodies to prevent infection.”

— Dr. William Barkman, pulmonary and critical care specialist and chief of staff at KU Hospital

Although the flu shots are free, the hospital will accept donations and non-perishable food items for Harvesters, the Community Food Network.

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No drive-thru flu shot clinic scheduled this year in Lawrence

Conner Liakos, 8, waits for the stick of the needle from volunteer Nola Bienoff. The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department organized the drive-thru flu shot clinic Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, as part of a training exercise to test the community public health emergency response plans.

Conner Liakos, 8, waits for the stick of the needle from volunteer Nola Bienoff. The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department organized the drive-thru flu shot clinic Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, as part of a training exercise to test the community public health emergency response plans. by Kevin Anderson

There will not be a free drive-thru flu vaccine clinic this year in Lawrence.

For the past two years, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department organized a drive-thru clinic to test community public health emergency response plans, and at least a dozen agencies helped, including the Lawrence Police Department and Kansas University’s School of Pharmacy. During the first year, 402 shots were administered, followed by 505 the second year.

Charlotte Marthaler, assistant director, said the department used grant funding to purchase the flu vaccine, which was given away for free at both clinics. She said the second clinic was held to test improvements that were identified after the first one.

This year, Douglas County residents will need to get their vaccines at the health department’s clinic, 200 Maine, one of its five area clinics, or elsewhere, like their pharmacy, doctor’s office or workplace, and the sooner the better.

Ryan Burns, director of immunization at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said the timing and severity of the flu season are difficult to predict and vary from year to year, but it typically starts in October.

“By getting your flu vaccine before you see or hear about the first case of flu in your community, you give yourself and your family the best opportunity to stay flu-free throughout the season,” he said.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.

KDHE urges everyone 6 months and older to get vaccinated against the flu. It takes about two weeks after the vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department’s flu vaccine clinics will be:

Tuesday — 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Eudora Middle School, 2635 Church St.

Oct. 9 — noon to 1 p.m., Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen at First Christian Church, 221 W. 10th St.

Oct. 10 — 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., Lecompton United Methodist Church, 402 Elmore St.

Oct. 11 — 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Baldwin School Primary Center, 500 Lawrence St.

Oct. 16 — 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., Stull United Methodist Church, 251 N. 1600.

Vaccinations will cost $23 for children ages 6 months to 35 months, and $28 for anyone ages 3 and older. For more information about influenza, visit the health department's website at ldchealth.org or call its clinic at 843-0721.

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Kansas health department reports flu activity at highest level so far this season

Flu activity has steadily increased during the past several weeks in Kansas and has reached its highest level so far this season, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Dr. Robert Moser, state health officer and KDHE secretary, said influenza will continue to circulate through the spring, and encourages Kansans to get their vaccine if they haven't received one.

"There is still time for people to get a flu vaccination to protect themselves, their families and the community,” he said. “The seasonal influenza types we’ve seen in Kansas are covered by the current vaccine.”

KDHE identified the first laboratory-confirmed influenza cases of this season on Dec. 21. Symptoms of influenza include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough and muscle aches. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, and dehydration; influenza may also worsen chronic conditions.

According to KDHE, vaccination is effective for reducing the chances of getting sick and spreading influenza to others. Anyone who is 6 months and older is recommended to receive a vaccine. This is especially important for anyone at high risk of complications or who is caring for, or in regular contact with, an infant less than 6 months of age. Babies this age are too young to be vaccinated and are more vulnerable to complications from influenza disease. 

The flu vaccine is available at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department’s clinic, 200 Maine. The cost is $23 for children, ages 6 months to 3, and $28 for anyone older than 3.

Charlotte Marthaler, assistant director of the local health department, said they haven’t seen or heard of an uptick in flu activity in Douglas County, but said it’s not unusual for there to be a rise this time of year.

To avoid spreading flu, Marthaler encourages residents to cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands, and stay home when sick— even if it means canceling a spring break trip.”If you are not feeling well, stay home,” she said.

To avoid getting the flu, she encourages plenty of rest, eating well and limiting alcohol consumption — all atypical of spring break vacations and St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

On average, five to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts influenza yearly and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with complications. Serious complications of the influenza can lead to pneumonia and even death.

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Kansas health department reports first cases of flu, urges vaccination

Sitting on the step of the family van, Evan Liakos, 8, gets his flu shot from volunteer Nola Bienoff under the watchful eye of his twin brother Conner. Evan received a free flu shot during a drive-thru flu shot clinic Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, that was organized by the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.

Sitting on the step of the family van, Evan Liakos, 8, gets his flu shot from volunteer Nola Bienoff under the watchful eye of his twin brother Conner. Evan received a free flu shot during a drive-thru flu shot clinic Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, that was organized by the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. by Kevin Anderson

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported Friday that it has identified the first cases of flu this season.

The cases were two adults from northwest Kansas who are in the same workplace and who did not receive a vaccination. Five co-workers also were ill with symptoms of the flu.

KDHE Secretary and state health officer Robert Moser urges everyone to get a flu vaccination, noting that it’s not too late.

“Although flu activity is now low, it normally rises during the holidays before peaking around February,” he said. “Influenza can continue to circulate through spring, and the flu can be unpredictable.”

Anyone 6 months and older is recommended to receive an annual flu vaccination. Additional ways to avoid spreading influenza include covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands and staying home when sick.

Flu symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough and muscle aches. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections and dehydration; influenza may also worsen other chronic conditions.

Older people, pregnant women, young children, and people with certain health conditions are at high risk for serious complications from the flu.

Influenza was documented as a cause of death for 31 Kansans in the 2009-2010 flu season and for 14 last year. However, flu is often not listed on death certificates because laboratory tests may not show flu by the time pneumonia or other complications develop, state epidemiologist Charles Hunt said.

“The actual numbers of influenza-related deaths are likely much higher and can vary substantially from year to year,” Hunt said.

For more information, visit www.kdheks.gov/flu, or contact the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department at 843-0721.

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CDC map identifies states where flu has been reported

For people worried about traveling into flu-infested areas during the holiday season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a great map that shows where outbreaks are occurring.

The data is about a week old, with the latest update from the week ending on Dec. 3. But it gives a good sense of where the flu has been reported. According to the most recent numbers, Kansas is among the 19 states where there has not been any influenza activity reported. Thirty states, including Colorado and Nebraska, have reported sporadic flu activity. In Virginia, a flu outbreak has been reported in one region.

Here's a picture of the CDC's flu map for Dec. 3, 2011.

Here's a picture of the CDC's flu map for Dec. 3, 2011. by Christine Metz

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CDC map identifies states where flu has been reported

For people worried about traveling into flu-infested areas during the holiday season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a great map that shows where outbreaks are occurring.

The data is about a week old, with the latest update from the week ending on Dec. 3. But it gives a good sense of where the flu has been reported. According to the most recent numbers, Kansas is among the 19 states where there has not been any influenza activity reported. Thirty states, including Colorado and Nebraska, have reported sporadic flu activity. In Virginia, a flu outbreak has been reported in one region.

Here's a picture of the CDC's flu map for Dec. 3, 2011.

Here's a picture of the CDC's flu map for Dec. 3, 2011. by Christine Metz

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Health department to offer flu shots at Lawrence library

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department is having community flu vaccination clinic Tuesday, Dec. 7.

The clinic will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt., as part of National Influenza Vaccination Week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older receive a flu shot.

Flu vaccine is $22 for children 6 months to 35 months and $26 for anyone who is older than 3. Clients eligible for Medicare Part B, Medicaid, HealthWave and Blue Cross/Blue Shield will have their insurance billed.

And, here's a fun incentive: FREE indoor aquatic center passes from Lawrence Parks and Recreation will be given to children ages 5-17 who are vaccinated at the clinic.

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Cold or flu? How do you know?

Here’s some advice that was provided in this month’s Wellness Words, a publication provided by Lawrence Memorial Hospital Community Education.

It also might convince you to get a flu shot — if you haven’t received one.

Symptoms for flu:

• Fever — usually.

• Headache — prominent.

• Body aches — may be severe.

• Weakness, fatigue — may last 2-3 weeks.

• Exhaustion — early, profound.

• Stuffy nose — sometimes.

• Sneezing — sometimes.

• Sore throat — sometimes.

• Cough, chest discomfort — common, may be severe.

Symptoms for cold:

• Fever — rare.

• Headache — rare.

• Body aches — slight.

• Weakness, fatigue — mild.

• Exhaustion — rare.

• Stuffy nose — common.

• Sneezing — Usual.

• Sore throat — common.

• Cough, chest discomfort — mild to moderate, hacking cough.

The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. Generally, the flu may make you feel worse than a cold.

It is important to seek medical advice if you think you have the flu and are in a medical at-risk group, or if symptoms are worsening. There are anti-viral drugs that a physician may prescribe for certain at-risk individuals, but these must be given early in the course of the illness.

In most cases, antibiotics are not appropriate for viral infections. Flu vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu.

Frequent hand washing and good health habits can help prevent transmission of both.

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Drive-through flu shot clinic discussed at health department’s board meeting

Nancy Reese, center, and her husband, Jim, stopped to get their flu shots from volunteer Barbara Schnitker Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010, during Lawrence's first drive-through flu shot clinic.

Nancy Reese, center, and her husband, Jim, stopped to get their flu shots from volunteer Barbara Schnitker Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010, during Lawrence's first drive-through flu shot clinic. by Kevin Anderson

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department board heard a report about the department’s first drive-through flu shot clinic on Monday evening.

Lisa Horn, communications coordinator, gave a report. She said:

• 402 people were vaccinated.

• 55 percent filled out consent forms before arriving at the clinic.

• The average time from entering the parking lot to leaving was 24 minutes.

• The average time it took people to get vaccinated was 3 minutes. That’s from the time the car pulled up to the vaccination station until the time it left.

It was a public health emergency training exercise for Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department staff, the Douglas County Medical Reserve Corps, and community volunteers.

The board also watched this fun video, where clinic volunteers and workers shared what their experiences were like on Saturday.

A few board members asked whether they could have handled more people. Partridge said that they would have to extend hours to do so. He said the eight vaccination stations were constantly busy, except for the last five minutes.

Last year, the department vaccinated about 1,300 people during a four-hour H1N1 clinic.

Board members also questioned Partridge about whether they’d provide a drive-through clinic again next year.

He wasn’t sure because the clinic cost about $4,000, and involved more than 70 volunteers and workers. Board members suggested the health department consider teaming up with a business or agency.

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Lawrence’s first drive-through flu shot clinic draws 402 people

Volunteer Tiffany Belland, a student in Kansas University's School of Pharmacy, gets a flu shot ready during a drive-thru flu shot clinic in 2010 at KU's Park and Ride Lot, Clinton Parkway and Iowa Street.

Volunteer Tiffany Belland, a student in Kansas University's School of Pharmacy, gets a flu shot ready during a drive-thru flu shot clinic in 2010 at KU's Park and Ride Lot, Clinton Parkway and Iowa Street. by Kevin Anderson

Four hundred and two people got a free flu shot Saturday morning during Lawrence’s first drive-through vaccination clinic.

Forty cars were waiting in line when the clinic opened at 8:45 a.m. — 15 minutes earlier than scheduled — in Kansas University’s Park and Ride Lot at the northwest corner of Clinton Parkway and Iowa Street.

There were about 70 people who volunteered or worked during the clinic, which ended at 10:30 a.m. It was a public health emergency training exercise for Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department staff, the Douglas County Medical Reserve Corps, and community volunteers.

Health department director Dan Partridge thought the training exercise ran smoothly.

“I was just gauging how many people were smiling and I thought there were far more smiles than frowns. So, I think it went well,” he said.

Nancy Reese, center, and her husband, Jim, stopped to get their flu shots from volunteer Barbara Schnitker Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010, during Lawrence's first drive-through flu shot clinic.

Nancy Reese, center, and her husband, Jim, stopped to get their flu shots from volunteer Barbara Schnitker Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010, during Lawrence's first drive-through flu shot clinic. by Kevin Anderson

Drivers are directed to stalls this morning during a drive-through flu shot clinic at Kansas University's Park and Ride Lot. The flu shots were free because the clinic served as a public health emergency training exercise for Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department staff, the Douglas County Medical Reserve Corps, and community volunteers.

Drivers are directed to stalls this morning during a drive-through flu shot clinic at Kansas University's Park and Ride Lot. The flu shots were free because the clinic served as a public health emergency training exercise for Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department staff, the Douglas County Medical Reserve Corps, and community volunteers. by Kevin Anderson

Driver Tena Santaularia, Lawrence, received an "I was brave" sticker after getting a flu shot Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010, at a drive-through clinic at the Kansas University's Park and Ride Lots.

Driver Tena Santaularia, Lawrence, received an "I was brave" sticker after getting a flu shot Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010, at a drive-through clinic at the Kansas University's Park and Ride Lots. by Kevin Anderson

Drivers made their way through a maze of traffic safety cones. Along the way, they stopped at a station where vaccine consent forms were checked.

Then they drove up and parked next to one of eight vaccination stations. The vaccinators took their consent forms, and the participants rolled up their sleeves, got a flu shot, and drove off. For those who needed extra assistance, like terrified children or the developmentally disabled, there were chairs to sit on at each station.

David Nelson, Lawrence, and his wife, Sherry, waited about 20 minutes to get their flu shots, but they didn’t mind.

“I am in my car,” he said, laughing. “I am a big fan of drive-ins. I love this.”

The 60-somethings described the clinic as well organized.

The longest wait was about 35 minutes. By 10:15 a.m., there was no line.

James Wisler Sr., Lawrence, and his 3-year-old son James Wisler Jr., enjoyed the nice weather during their 25-minute wait in a convertible.

“It’s organized, well-planned,” Wisler Sr. said. “I am really happy about it.”

However, his son, who was in the back seat, didn’t seem too thrilled, especially after getting poked. A worker gave him a sticker that said, “I just got a shot — hero,” but that didn’t cheer him up or stop the tears.

Partridge said he was a little disappointed in the turnout. They were planning for about 1,000 people.

“We had great weather, maybe too perfect,” he said.

Partridge estimated the clinic cost $4,000, so he wasn’t sure if they would offer it again next year.

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KU Hospital to offer drive-through flu shot clinic Oct. 30

Kansas University Hospital will offer free flu shots during its 16th annual Drive-Thru Flu Shot clinic on Saturday, Oct. 30.

The event will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot just east of the intersection of 36th and Rainbow Boulevard in Kansas City, Kan.

No appointment is necessary; simply drive to 36th Street and Rainbow Boulevard and follow the signs.

The clinic is available to anyone 8 years and older.

This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine.

The hospital has 7,000 doses available, double the amount of last year’s event.

Although the flu shots are free, the hospital will also accept donations and non-perishable food items for Harvesters Community Food Network, which supplies food to Just Food, Douglas County’s food bank.

KU Hospital leaders provided insight and information that helped in planning Lawrence's first drive-through flu shot clinic. The clinic will be from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, in KU's Park and Ride Lot at the northwest corner of Clinton Parkway and Iowa Street.

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Lawrence’s first drive-through flu vaccination clinic set for Saturday

Need a flu shot?

Then, you won’t want to miss Lawrence’s first drive-through clinic on Saturday.

You just drive up, turn in a vaccine consent form, and roll up your sleeve. The best part: It’s free.

The clinic will be from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in Kansas University’s Park and Ride Lot at the northwest corner of Clinton Parkway and Iowa Street. Participants should enter from Clinton Parkway.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department encourages participants to wear loose sleeves that roll up easily and to fill out a vaccine consent form beforehand to expedite the process. Forms are available on the department’s website at www.ldchealth.org. They also can be picked up at the clinic, which is on the first floor of the Community Health Facility, 200 Maine, and at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.

The clinic will be held rain or shine and will serve as a public health emergency training exercise for health department staff, the Douglas County Medical Reserve Corps, and community volunteers.

Lisa Horn, health department spokeswoman, said they will not give vaccine in nasal spray form.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine.

“Getting a flu vaccine not only protects you from being ill, but it also protects people who may not be able to receive the vaccine or who have a weakened immune system,” Horn said. “It’s especially important if you have a young child or an infant in your household.”

The health department also will be collecting nonperishable food items for Just Food, the Douglas County food bank that serves low-income residents and supplies other local pantries.

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Health professionals’ advice on flu shots: Don’t wait, get one

Sixth-year Kansas University pharmacy student, Andy Fikan, Atwood, Kan., administers a flu shot to Andrew Garcia, 80, Lawrence, during a flu clinic organized by Walgreens and the Kansas University School of Pharmacy, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010, at the Lawrence Senior Center, 745 Vt. Local health professionals are encouraging anyone 6 months and older to get a flu shot this year.

Sixth-year Kansas University pharmacy student, Andy Fikan, Atwood, Kan., administers a flu shot to Andrew Garcia, 80, Lawrence, during a flu clinic organized by Walgreens and the Kansas University School of Pharmacy, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010, at the Lawrence Senior Center, 745 Vt. Local health professionals are encouraging anyone 6 months and older to get a flu shot this year. by Nick Krug

Anyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot.

This year’s recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are that simple.

“We want everyone to get their flu shot as soon as they find the opportunity to get it done,” said Kathy Colson, registered nurse and immunization team leader with the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. “There’s been absolutely no talk of shortages. There seems to be a ton of vaccine out there.”

This year’s vaccine protects against three common flu viruses, including H1N1, which caused a pandemic last year.

Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, state health officer, said the United States likely will not see the widespread, out-of-season outbreaks like last year. But, he said, the H1N1 strain is still active.

He said the best gauge for the upcoming season is to look at what’s going on in the southern hemisphere, where it is flu season.

“We are going back to the pre-pandemic mixed pattern, but we have this new kid on the block who’s still able to cause a lot of disease.”

In New Zealand, he said, there are areas that were spared from H1N1 last year, but that are having pretty intense activity this year.

“So, clearly, the people who didn’t get it the first time are at risk of getting it this time around, if the same pattern holds in the northern hemisphere, four or five months from now,” Eberhart-Phillips said.

The flu season here is typically October through April, and it peaks in January and February.

Still, health professionals advise people to get a vaccine as soon as possible. The vaccine will last through the season. It takes about two weeks to build up immunity to the strains in the vaccine.

“It’s the best protection that we’ve got. It’s a relatively small price to pay — if you are paying anything for it — compared to the cost of a few days of misery at home away from work and away from doing the things that you like to do,” Eberhart-Phillips said.

Many retail pharmacies such as Walgreens, Dillons and Sigler Pharmacy are offering them. A new state law allows pharmacists to give flu shots to anyone 6 years old and older. Before, 18 was the age limit. For children 5 years old and younger, they need to get the vaccine from their health care provider.

“We are certainly trying to increase our business,” said Pat Hubbell, co-owner of Sigler Pharmacy. “And it’s another way to get folks vaccinated.”

Hubbell has given only a handful so far this year, but he anticipates the demand will pick up. Last year, the two pharmacies provided 2,500 flu shots.

Colson urges people to get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

“If you’ve ever had the flu, you will know that you don’t want to go through that again. It is a respiratory illness. It can be quite deadly to the very old or the very young,” she said. “It’s not just you that you have to think about. It’s all the people around you and who you affect.”

The health department expects to get shipments of the vaccine in a couple of weeks. It will have a community clinic in Baldwin, Eudora and Lawrence, but the dates haven’t been set. It expects the cost to be $28, but the health department doesn’t turn anyone away for inability to pay.

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71-year-old Kansan dies from H1N1 flu virus

A 71-year-old woman from northeast Kansas has died from the H1N1 flu virus. She was not from Douglas County.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the death brings the total number of confirmed deaths from H1N1 to 29.

The woman’s infection was confirmed in the KDHE laboratory on March 19, and her death was reported to KDHE on March 30.

The woman had underlying health conditions that placed her at greater risk for severe complications of influenza.

The activity level of the H1N1 flu virus is low in Kansas, including Douglas County.

“We are watching this virus closely, particularly in light of the increased activity that states in the southeastern part of the country are reporting,” said Dr. Jason Eberhart-Phillips, state health officer. “Anyone who has not yet received the pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccine should do so.”

Lisa Horn, Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department spokeswoman, said the health department still is providing the H1N1 flu vaccine for free at its clinic, 200 Maine. For more information, call 843-3060.

Between Sept. 26, 2009, and March 20, there have been 921 confirmed deaths from pneumonia or influenza in Kansas. Three percent of the deaths were from the H1N1 flu virus.

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State pharmacies to give flu shots to kids

Kansas pharmacists will be able to give flu shots to children 6 and older starting in July, under a bill signed Friday by Gov. Mark Parkinson.

The bill makes an exception to an existing law that lets adults be vaccinated by pharmacists, their assistants and interns.

Flu shots will be the only immunizations offered to children at pharmacies.

Supporters said it would make it easier for parents to get their children vaccinated against the flu.

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