The Kent County Health Department announced last week that preliminary testing shows complications from influenza virus may have contributed to nine recent deaths. Six of these deaths were individuals from Kent County; three were from neighboring counties. There are over 1900 reported flu cases in Kent County so far this season.
“Most of the deaths reported to us have been elderly patients with pre-existing medical conditions,” says Adam London, Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recently reported that this year’s flu is particularly hard on older adults. “It is so important for us to check on our elderly family members, friends and neighbors, even if it’s just a daily phone call. We also should remember that the flu can also have a deadly impact on the young and those with compromised immune systems. You can protect others by protecting yourself: get a flu vaccination.”
The total number of flu cases reported to KCHD as of January 10, 2015 was 1,976. New cases reported during the week ending January 10, 2015 was 355, compared to 581 during the previous week, and 625 during the week ending December 27, 2014.
The flu can have serious complications for children under the age of five, the elderly, and people with already-weakened immune systems. Signs and symptoms can include:
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Fatigue (very tired)
• Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age to protect against flu viruses. The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. The cost of the vaccine ranges from $39-$55; FluMist nasal spray (a live, preservative-free, four strain vaccine) is available for $41.
Children from six months through 18 years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $23. The Health Department can only bill Medicaid and Medicare; private insurance is not accepted. Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted.
To make an appointment at any of their four clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com. Most primary care providers and many local pharmacies also provide influenza vaccinations and can bill private insurance.