Fall is almost here, flu season looms ahead

WICHITA, Kansas – Fall is just beginning and that means flu season will soon follow.

Health officials say this flu season, like most, is unpredictable and this year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is releasing new guidelines in the fight against influenza.

Typically starting in late October, it takes roughly two weeks after getting vaccinated for the vaccine to kick in.

In preparation for the season, the CDC is offering new recommendations for parents with young children and seniors.

Health officials recommend a flu mist nasal spray as the preferred vaccine for healthy children between the ages of 2 and 8.

“There have been some studies that have shown that the flu mist provides higher antibodies,” said immunization specialist Beverly Stewart.

For those 65 and older, there is now a choice between a standard flu shot or a high dose flu shot approved for the elderly only by the FDA in 2009.

“It has more of the flu antigen in the vaccine itself so it causes a larger immune response,” said Stewart.

There are also egg free flu vaccines available for people with allergies.

Despite warnings about how serious and deadly the flu can be, the CDC reports that only half of Americans got vaccinated last year. In fact, the flu kills about 24,000 people each year.

Since there are a variety of flu vaccines offered, health officials do not recommend one over the other .

Instead they stress more about keeping up health habits and getting vaccinated as soon as they are available.

“Hand washing is the best defense against disease and to get your flu vaccine even if you don’t think you’re at risk its recommended for everybody six months and older and to try and get it soon,” said Stewart.

According to the CDC, there are 150 million flu vaccines available this year.

Starting October 1st, they will be available at the Sedgwick County Health Department for the uninsured.

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