January 16, 2013



Flu vaccination

By Julie Gibbs

Influenza disease, or the flu, can be a serious illness for many people. So far the 2012-13 flu season has peaked earlier than usual through much of the nation, particularly in highly populated areas. According to the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, for the week ending on Jan. 5, 47 states reported widespread geographic influenza activity. This is an increase from 41 states in the previous week.

Kansas currently has high influenza-like illness, or ILI, activity. The proportion of people seeing their health care provider for influenza-like illness remains above the national baseline for the fifth consecutive week, according to the CDC.

The most commonly diagnosed type of influenza is the H3N2 type which the vaccine available since August 2012 covers. It is possible to get the flu even if a person has had the vaccine, but the effectiveness of the vaccine when given in a timely manner — about 2 weeks prior to an exposure to the flu virus — is high.  And if you do become ill, the symptoms are generally less severe and last for a shorter period than if you had not had the vaccine.

It’s not too late to be vaccinated against influenza. However, availability of vaccine may be limited so check with your medical provider and/or your local health department if you haven’t yet had the vaccine. Some pharmacies are also offering the flu vaccine to the public. 

People with certain medical conditions are more prone to complications from an influenza infection such as those with asthma, heart disease, chronic lung disease, kidney disease, metabolic disorders such as diabetes, neuromuscular diseases such as multiple sclerosis, immune suppression, pregnant women and obesity. Adults 65 and older are more likely to be hospitalized from influenza. 

Lafene Health Center still has an ample supply of the inactivated flu vaccine for Kansas State students and/or faculty/staff. Lafene will have a flu vaccine clinic will be from 1-4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, and from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24.

Lafene does not give flu vaccine to pregnant women, although it is highly recommended. If a student or faculty/staff member is pregnant, the vaccine should be given by her primary care physician or obstetrician/gynecologist. Also, Lafene does not have any doses of the live intranasal vaccine.  

For further information about influenza or the flu vaccine, please check the website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/.