Health officials stress importance of flu shots

Todd G. Higdon

After the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the first laboratory, viral culture-confirmed influenza case of the 2007-08 winter season, area health officials are urging residents to get flu shots if they haven't already.

The case of influenza was reported from southwest Missouri, but not from the immediate Neosho area.

“We have not seen any flu cases come in,” said Patti Yates, nursing supervisor with the Newton County Health Department.

“We want to remind Missourians, especially those who are considered high risk for influenza complications, and those who have close contact with people at high risk, that it is not too late to get their flu shots,” said Jane Drummond, director of the state health department. “People should consult their health-care providers or their local public health agency to locate influenza vaccine.”

Influenza is a highly contagious viral respiratory illness that affects the health of large numbers of people every year. Most people recover within a week, but a cough and tiredness can last two weeks or longer.

Complications caused by the flu include bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. The most common complication with the flu is pneumonia. In the United States, influenza and pneumonia combined is among the top 10 leading causes of death.

According to statistics, on average, influenza is annually associated with more than 36,000 deaths and more than 200,000 hospitalizations.

In Missouri, influenza and pneumonia are associated with approximately 1,500 to 3,000 deaths per year.

Flu vaccine

According to a DHSS news release, “manufacturers have supplied more than 140 million doses of the flu vaccine in the United States this season, more vaccine supplied than in any other season.”

Recent studies have shown that the flu vaccine efficiency is approximately 70 to 90 percent effective in preventing illness among persons 65 years of age or younger. It is 30 to 40 percent effective among the elderly, 50 to 60 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and approximately 80 percent effective in preventing death.

The simple way to avoid the flu is for people to eat right and stay healthy.

“If you have the flu, try to limit contact with others, stay home, don’t go to work,” said Yates. “It is respiratory, not the stomach flu.”

Neosho Daily News