Flu activity in Arkansas and Phillips County area is on the rise but state Department of Health officials say it's still not too late to get a flu vaccine. However, the vaccine takes about two weeks to provide full protection.
Flu activity in Arkansas and Phillips County area is on the rise but state Department of Health officials say it's still not too late to get a flu vaccine. However, the vaccine takes about two weeks to provide full protection. In the U.S. flu activity typically reaches its peak in January and lasts through early March. According to information obtained from the ADH, the school absenteeism rate in Phillips County stood at 6.03 percent as of Dec. 21, the latest reporting date just prior to the Christmas holiday break. The numbers were up from 3.27 percent from the previous reporting date of Dec. 14. The statewide absentee average during the same Dec. 21 reporting period was 5.07 percent. On Thursday (Dec. 26) the state Health Department issued a press release encouraging all health care personnel, even those not directly involved with patient care, to get the yearly flu vaccine. “Health care personnel are responsible for the well-being and safety of their patients,” commented Dr. Gary Wheeler, branch chief of Infectious Disease at ADH. “We want to ensure health care personnel do everything they can to protect their patients from the flu.” During the week of Dec. 9-13, designated as National Influenza Vaccination Week, state health officials urged all Arkansans to get a flu shot. ADH officials report that those infected with the flu virus can spread the virus to others a couple of days before developing flu symptoms themselves. About half of those infected with the flu may not have any symptoms. The flu virus spreads through coughing and/or sneezing and by touching surfaces contaminated by the virus such as a doorknob and then touching the nose or mouth. Health officials say the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a yearly flu shot. During the past half-century, flu vaccines have proven to be safe and effective. Almost 100 million doses of flu vaccine are used in this country each year claim health officials. The ADH stresses that the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. However, mild flu-like symptoms may begin soon after the shot and usually only last one or two days. If you become sick with the flu shortly after receiving the vaccine, you were already infected with the virus. The vaccine can still reduce the symptoms of the flu. ADH says there are very few medical reasons to not get the flu vaccine. These include life-threatening reactions such as an allergic reactions to a previous dose of flu vaccine or Guillain-Barre' syndrome. However, there is now an egg-free vaccine that can be taken by those with a serious egg allergy. Flu symptoms include fever over 100 degrees, headache, extreme fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, dry cough, runny or stuffy nose and occasional stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. For more information about the flu, go to http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/flu.htm.