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Flu season nothing to sneeze at


By Martine Coly – Collegiate Staff

Flu season is here, but it’s not too late to avoid it.

The flu is caused when the influenza virus infects the respiratory tract. The virus can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications that can lead to death. The CDC estimated that in the United States each year approximately five to 20 percent of the population gets the flu and more than 20,0000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu related complications.

In Kent County, five people died last year from the flu, all were over 60.

Lisa Laplante, Communication Manager of the Kent County Health Department said, “there were three people that died from the flu who were under the age of 18 (in Michigan).”

There were 753 cases of influenza virus, in 2013, in Kent County according to the Kent County Health Department. Laplante added that “ten percent of (people) ages 18 to 24 were vaccinated.”

One of the best ways to avoid getting the flu is to get vaccinated every year.

There are two types of flu vaccine available, the flu shot and the nasal flu vaccine (flu mist). The shot administers the vaccine through injection, usually into the upper arm. The flu mist is sprayed into the nose.

Laplante said the best steps to flu prevention are getting the flu shot and frequent hand washing during winter.

Places to get the flu vaccine vary. CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Family Fair, Hospitals, and some work places even offer the flu vaccine to their employees free of charge. Other places offer the vaccine for free.

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