The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines influenza (flu) as “a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.” It is estimated that from five to 20 percent of the United States population has the flu each year. Annually 200,000 people are hospitalized for complications from the flu and more than 36,000 people die from those complications.
The flu is spread like other respiratory illnesses. Respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person can pass through the air to an uninfected person.
Viruses may also be spread if an uninfected person touches a surface contaminated with the virus and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes without having washed their hands.
Unlike a cold, the flu usually comes on very suddenly with high fever, body aches and dry cough. In addition, other symptoms such as headache, tiredness and a runny or stuffy nose may be present.
The flu isn’t a cold and symptoms can range from mild to serious or even deadly.
The best way to prevent the flu is to be vaccinated against the viruses responsible for the illness.
There are many types of viruses that cause the flu and each year the CDC and other researchers attempt to predict which three viruses are most likely to cause the current year’s strain of flu.
The flu vaccine is then made up of these three viruses. A flu vaccination will protect a person from the flu or at least help ensure that it is a milder form of the illness.
The CDC recommends a flu vaccination for children over the age of 6 months and all adults who want to protect themselves from the flu.
The flu vaccine is particularly recommended for all people who are at high risk of serious complications and for people who have daily contact with those individuals.
People over the age of 65, people of any age with chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or asthma, pregnant women and young children are at greater risk for developing complications from the flu.
The Franklin County Health Department (FCHD) will be administering the flu vaccine in all Franklin County Schools and Frankfort City Schools.
The flu mist is recommended for all healthy students rather than the flu injection.
FCHD will be offering the new intradermal delivery system injections that use a tiny needle. The vaccine is injected just under the skin rather than the muscle. It is the same vaccine, just a different delivery system.
FCHD offers flu shots during regular clinic hours with or without an appointment. The clinic is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 8-4:30 and on Wednesdays from 8-6:30.
In addition to the regular clinic hours, several off-site clinics, including drive through clinics, have been scheduled.
The fee for the vaccination is $25. FCHD accepts cash, checks, money orders, and most insurance companies can be billed.
For more information, call 564-7647 or visit fchd.org.