Health Education & Promotion

Prevention of Influenza

What is influenza?

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by a virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting the flu shot or nasal spray every year. Influenza is not the stomach flu.

Why is this a focus of the Kent County Health Department (KCHD)?

Flu seasons are unpredictable and vary in severity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 to 20 % of the U.S. population gets the flu, tens of thousands are hospitalized and thousands die from flu-related illnesses. The annual cost are estimated to be $10.4 billion in direct medical expenses and an additional $16.3 billion in lost earnings. Influenza can be especially dangerous and even deadly for children and seniors, but people aged 18-64 are also at risk from complications of the flu.

How is KCHD addressing this issue?

The Kent County Health Department recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated. Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups of people. Factors that can determine a person's suitability for vaccination, or vaccination with a particular vaccine, include a person's age, health (current and past) and any relevant allergies, including an egg allergy. Talk to your doctor or nurse if you have any questions regarding which flu vaccine options are best for you and your family.

Everyone should wash their hands frequently and cover their coughs to prevent the spread of flu, colds, and other communicable diseases.

Influenza prevention services offered by KCHD:

Presentations on prevention of colds and seasonal influenza are available for businesses, service organizations, churches, senior and neighborhood groups. Topics addressed include: influenza overview, reducing your risk or becoming infected, hand washing, cough etiquette, influenza vaccination, and caring for yourself and others when sick. Also get tips on what supplies you should have stored in the event you cannot get to the store due to illness. Presentations can be tailored to meet the needs of specific audiences.

Sharon Schmidt | | (616) 632-7219

Fact Sheets