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Ark. health officials say flu season going strong

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 11, 2013 at 4:56 pm •  Published: January 11, 2013

The vaccine is recommended for everyone six months or older.

People with respiratory problems, compromised immune systems or other underlying health problems are at greatest risk for flu complications, the most common of which is bacterial pneumonia, Gilliam said. And among children, those with cancer, congenital heart problems and cystic fibrosis are most likely to suffer complications that require hospitalization, he said.

Flu symptoms tend to come on quickly, with fever, headache, body aches, an unproductive cough and chills. Other respiratory viruses are also circulating and can have similar symptoms, Gilliam said.

Barham said there is an adequate supply of vaccine, though there have been some spot shortages. If a health unit runs out of vaccine, more can be brought over from nearby clinics, he said.

The CDC said its recent flu reports included the holidays when some doctor's offices were closed. Central Arkansas was also beset by a winter storm that struck on Christmas Day and left more than 260,000 electric customers without power.

Gilliam said getting a flu shot, frequent hand washing and keeping unvaccinated babies away from large crowds or people with symptoms of respiratory illness are the best preventive measures.