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Examiner
  • Flu hits hard in Jackson County

  • By this time during the cold-and-flu season last winter, the city of Independence was up to 22 confirmed cases of the flu.



    This year, it’s 283, Health Director Larry Jones said Thursday.

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  • By this time during the cold-and-flu season last winter, the city of Independence was up to 22 confirmed cases of the flu.
    This year, it’s 283, Health Director Larry Jones said Thursday.
    As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reiterated Friday, the influenza this year is hitting harder and earlier than normal. Missouri remains among the states hardest hit.
    “It is up from prior years. The state of Missouri is considerably up. It’s above historical trends,” said James R. Kelly, director of the Jackson County Health Department.
    What can you do?
    “Besides getting a flu shot, washing your hands is the easiest way to avoid getting the flu,” Kelly said.
    Jones and Kelly quickly point out that it’s not too late to get a flu shot.
    “No, it’s not too late, but any time you get one it takes two weeks to become effective,” Jones said.
    The flu normally peaks in February, so this is early, but Kelly points out that it’s too soon to tell if this is an early peak or if things will get worse.
    Both officials stress that getting a flu shot is good for the community. Just about everyone, Jones said, knows someone with an infant under 6 months (too young for the flu vaccine) or someone who’s in chemotherapy and dealing with a weakened immune system. Avoiding the flu – which a person can transmit to another person a day before symptoms show up – helps protect those people, too.
    “You don’t just get a flu shot for yourself,” Jones said. “You’re doing it for the community.”
    Jones said Influenza B is more prevalent than Influenza A this year but this year’s flu vaccine matches up well with what’s going around.
    Of course, it’s not all flu, which the CDC points out is a respiratory illness. The flu usually comes on suddenly, bringing a mix of fever, cough, sore throat, a stuffy or runny nose, headache, muscle and body ache, fatigue and a feeling of feverishness and chills. Although some people vomit or experience diarrhea, that’s more common with children. If what you’re experiencing is gastro-intenstinal, Jones points out, that’s something else.
    And flu viruses are adapted to spread easily. They move from person to person – up to six feet away – mainly by droplets when people cough, sneeze or even talk and those droplets land in the mouths or noses of others. A healthy adult can infect others one day before his own symptoms show up and up to a week afterward. You can also get the flu by touching a surface or object with a flu virus on it and then touching your mouth or nose.
    Page 2 of 2 - So wash up, officials advise. Wash your hands with soap and warm water. If that’s not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
    Get a flu shot
    The Jackson County Health Department is expanding its flu shot availablity.
    Shots are available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and now Fridays. The department announced that change on Friday.
    The county Health Department is at 313 S. Liberty, just south of the Independence Square. (It’s also about two blocks north of the city Health Department, which does not give flu shots.)
    The cost is $25, though insurance generally covers that. You might want to check with your provider. The cost is $50 for those 65 and older because there’s a higher dosage. The vaccinations are for walk-ins – no appointment needed – but allow a few minutes for some paperwork.
    Call 816-404-6415 or go to www.jcohd.org.
     

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