• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

More people get flu shots after state’s first death

PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR Cassie Prather said colder temperatures and an early flu-related death are two factors that have resulted in more people getting their vaccinations earlier. The Woodford County Health Department has administered 221 high dose flu vaccinations (for people 65 and older), 329 regular dose shots and 58 vaccines for children – a total of 608, Prather reported. (File photo by Bob Vlach)

The number of people coming to the Woodford County Health Department to get their flu vaccinations increased significantly after a flu-related death in Lexington Oct. 9, Public Health Director Cassie Prather said.

Because the first flu-related death in Kentucky this season was an older man, she said the increase has been especially high among older Woodford Countians, who receive a high-dose vaccine.

“… You don’t typically see this many people this early, especially because of the (summer-like) weather we’ve had,” said Prather. She cited a combination of colder temperatures in recent days and the early flu-related death as factors for people wanting to get their vaccinations earlier.

The Woodford County Health Department welcomes walk-ins for anyone needing a flu shot, said Prather. She noted that most health insurance plans cover the flu vaccination, which are $25 and $65 (for high-dose vaccines) if self-pay. Prather also addressed two common misunderstandings about the flu vaccine, including its effectiveness.

Even if the vaccine is not a good match for the influenza strain – as happened last year – Prather said getting a flu shot can “greatly reduce” the severity and duration of the illness.

Last year, Prather, her husband and their five children all got the flu shot. They also got the flu, “but we were over it in two or three days, and the symptoms weren’t that bad at all,” she said. “And I can compare that to having (the flu) in college and not being vaccinated, and I was out for at least two weeks.”

Another myth about getting the influenza vaccine is that the shot itself will make you sick. “It’s just simply not true,” said Prather. “…It’s a dead virus that you are being injected with so there’s no way possible that it can cause you to get the flu.”

Other ways to prevent getting or spreading the flu virus, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, include avoiding close contact with sick people, limiting contact with others when sick, staying home for at least 24 hours when sick, covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and washing your hands.

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