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CONTACT: Sherbert Harvey, Health Department, (816) 513-6268

Kansas Citians encouraged to get flu shots

Mayor Kay Barnes is encouraging Kansas Citians to protect themselves from the flu virus this winter by getting a flu shot. The Mayor will be vaccinated on Friday, Oct. 11 at 10 a.m. in her office on the 29th floor of City Hall. Dr. Gerald Hoff, epidemiologist for the Health Department, will also be available to speak with media representatives about the flu virus.

Influenza (or the flu) is a serous disease caused by a virus that spreads from infected people to the nose or throat of others. You cannot get the flu from the vaccine. To help protect yourself from the flu, public health officials advise frequent hand washing and avoiding contact with people who have the flu.

The flu season starts in November and ends in April. It is important that people at risk for getting a serious case of influenza and people in close contact with them get an annual vaccine. Protection against the flu develops about two weeks after getting the shot and may last up to a year. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu shot for these groups:

-- Everyone 50 years of age or older.

-- Residents of long-term care facilities housing people with chronic medical conditions.

-- Anyone with a serious long-term health problem (such as heart, lung or kidney disease), asthma, diabetes, anemia or other blood disorders.

-- Anyone with a weakened immune system, such as people with HIV/AIDS, long-term treatment with drugs such as steroids or cancer treatment with x-rays or drugs.

-- Anyone 6 months to 18 years of age on long-term aspirin treatment.

-- Pregnant women who will be past the third month of pregnancy during the flu season.

-- Physicians, nurses, family members or anyone else coming in close contact with people at risk of serious influenza.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also encourages an annual flu shot for these groups:

-- Healthy children 6 to 23 months of age, and their household contacts and out-of-home caretakers.

-- Household contacts and out-of-home caretakers of infants less than 6 months of age.

-- People who provide essential community services.

-- People living in dormitories or in other crowded conditions, to prevent outbreaks.

-- Anyone who wants to reduce their chance of catching the flu or pneumonia.

The Health Department encourages everyone in these risk groups to get an annual flu vaccine. Individuals should contact their health care provider to get information about where to get flu vaccines.

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