By Magen McCrarey
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Beginning Thursday, Jan. 3, the Laurel County Health Department will be administering influenza shots to the community at no cost, while supplies last.
Mark Hensley, director for the health department, reported there are approximately 200-250 doses of the flu vaccine in stock. Health department officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are urging all citizens, especially those 55 and older or pregnant women, to receive the vaccine. In addition, those who have current health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease and other chronic health issues should also take precaution and receive the vaccine, Hensley said.
According to the CDC, flu activity has increased in the U.S. and eight influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported this week. In Kentucky, the out-patient level of those infected by the virus is elevated and the virus was reported by the Kentucky Department of Public Health to be "widespread" across the state.
Flu infections can cause a headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, fever and body aches. The flu is highly contagious and causes approximately 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
The Laurel County Health Department strongly recommends everyone of all ages receive the flu vaccine as soon as possible, because the virus is preventable. Each year, the seasonal influenza vaccine contains three viruses -- one influenza A (H3N2) virus, one influenza A (H1N1) virus and one influenza B virus. The H1N1 virus from 2009 has continued to be included in the seasonal flu vaccine because scientists continue to see the virus strain circulating in the U.S.
Side effects of the vaccine reported include soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was administered. Side effects should not last more than one to two days.
If you have already received the vaccine this season, take further preventative action by washing your hands often with soap and water. In addition, avoid close contact with the infected, and if you yourself are sick, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
The Laurel County Health Department will administer flu shots Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. To stay informed during the flu season visit Flu.gov.