Posted By: KLKN Newsroom
WASHINGTON (AP) _ More children than ever got vaccinated against the flu last year, and health officials are urging families to do even better this time around.
A severe flu strain swept the country last winter, sparking a scramble for last-minute vaccinations. There's no way to predict if this year will be as bad. But protection requires a yearly vaccine, either a shot or nasal spray. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday it's time for people to start getting immunized.
Flu vaccine is recommended for nearly everyone ages 6 months and older. Yet just 45 percent of the population followed that advice last year. Flu is particularly risky for seniors and kids. Two-thirds of adults 65 and older, and nearly 57 percent of children, were vaccinated last year.
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department says the vaccine is especially important for those at high risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia if they get the flu. Those include pregnant women, those age 65 and older, and those with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, chronic lung disease and those who are immune compromised.
People who live with or care for others who at high risk of developing complications also should be vaccinated every year. This includes household contacts and caregivers of infants and people with medical conditions including asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease.
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 can lead to death. There were two flu-related deaths in Lancaster County last flu season.
Getting vaccinated each year provides the best protection against influenza. An annual flu vaccine is needed because flu viruses change constantly, and new flu viruses mayo appear each year. The flu vaccine is formulated each year to keep up with the flu viruses as they change. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection.
The flu season typically runs from October through April, but it varies and can run into May. Flu activity commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February.
LLCHD will provide flu vaccine to low-income, uninsured adults and certain uninsured children beginning September 30. To be eligible for a flu vaccine at LLCHD, children must be between the ages of 6 months through 18 years and meet one or more of these criteria:
• Have Medicaid coverage
• Have no health insurance or be under insured
• Be American Indian and/or Alaskan Native.
LLCHD requires appointments for flu vaccinations. For more information, call 402-441-8065 or visit lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: health).