flu season

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Kansas health officials say the flu is increasing in most parts of the state.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW/File photo

Free flu shots are now available for uninsured Sedgwick County residents older than 19, according to a news release from the county.

The vaccine is available while supplies last at the county’s Division of Health main clinic at 2716 W. Central in Wichita. The clinic is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 6:30 p.m.

Flu vaccinations are recommended for anyone six months or older. There is no live virus in flu shots, and the vaccine cannot cause the flu.

CDC

Already, flu and pneumonia have been a factor in more than 500 deaths in Kansas. More from Bryan Thompson.

People older than 64 or younger than five are being hit the hardest.

The CDC is advising people with chronic conditions, pregnant women, senior citizens, and small children to take antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu, if they become infected.

Dr. Mike Munger, at St. Luke’s South Primary Care, in Overland Park, says the drugs need to be taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms to minimize the severity of the flu.

The Sedgwick County Health Department has run out of flu vaccine for uninsured adults

The agency says the vaccine is still available for children, regardless of whether they're insured. Uninsured children are charged on a sliding fee scale based on family income.

Remaining flu vaccinations can be administered at the health department's clinic in Wichita.

State health officials say 16 Kansans have died from the influenza during the current flu season.

A spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment says at this time last year, 42 people had died from the flu.

The state's reporting period is from September to May.

The H1N1 flu strain this season is the same strain that caused killed more than 18,000 people in the U.S. in 2009.

But state epidemiologist Charles Hunt says this year's strain won't be as severe because people have developed more immunity to that strain.

Health officials say the state is seeing a high number of influenza cases this year.

The state Department of Health and Environment reports 5 percent of visits to clinic sites it monitors were due to influenza-like illness.

The KDHE says flu or pneumonia contributed to 510 deaths during the current season, which began September 1st.

We've also seen a re-emergence of the A/H1N1 strain as the dominant virus.

The same strain caused a pandemic in 2009.

The agency is encouraging people eaged six months and older to get vaccinated.

A state health official says flu season has started in Kansas but there isn't any indication that this year's outbreak will be any worse than previous years.

Flu season has come early to Kansas this year; state health officials have confirmed two cases of influenza.

KDHE spokeswoman Miranda Steele says one case was identified through a system of clinics that monitor patients with flu-like symptoms. The other was identified by the Sedgwick County Health Department.

Flu Rate In Sedgwick County Dropping

Feb 28, 2013

The flu is a serious problem this season.

At its peak in early February, about 7 percent of all visits to health clinics in Sedgwick County were for flu-like symptoms. Now, the rate is at 3 percent.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Kansas is among the 10 states that are currently being hit hardest with the flu virus.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says there have now been 495 flu-related deaths in the 2012-2013 season that began in October. That number includes 35 deaths in the last week.

The number comes at the tail end of the worst week for Kansas so far in this year's flu season.

KDHE spokesperson Miranda Steele, says the rate is now starting to drop, with infection rates in Kansas down from more that 5 percent to 4.5 percent.

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