WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Sedgwick County Health Department (SCHD) has announced the first reports of influenza, or the flu, in the county.

The SCHD wants to remind residents that now is the best time to get their flu shot to protect themselves and their families.

“You can be doubly protected by getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same visit,” the SCHD says.

According to the SCHD, flu symptoms start suddenly and include a fever lasting 3-4 days, body aches, chills, tiredness, cough, and headache. The flu virus spreads from person to person through nose and mouth droplets during talking, coughing or sneezing.

The SCHD says to reduce the spread of flu and other respiratory illnesses (like the common cold and COVID-19) by following these simple steps:

  • Get a flu shot
  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill
  • Eat healthy foods and get plenty of rest
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  • Stay home if you become ill
  • Wear a mask and practice social distancing

“This year’s flu shot protects against two types of Influenza A and two types of Influenza B,” says the SCHD. “Flu can cause serious illness and even death, especially in older adults and in people with underlying medical conditions. Studies show an annual flu shot reduces the risk of flu illness by 40-60% in years when the vaccine is well-matched to circulating viruses.”

The SCHD Clinic, at 2716 W. Central, provides no-cost flu shots to uninsured adults, uninsured children and children with CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) and Medicaid/KanCare (Aetna Better Health, Sunflower and United Healthcare). Uninsured adults and children receive the flu shot at no cost. Children with CHIP or Medicaid/KanCare have no co-pay.

Flu shots are by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, call 316-660-7300.

If you do not qualify for an SCHD flu shot, visit your primary care physician or neighborhood pharmacy to receive one.

Visit http://www.flu.gov/ for information about resources in your area.

The SCHD recommends flu vaccinations for anyone 6 months and older unless otherwise directed by a physician.

“A flu shot can keep you from getting the flu, make symptoms less severe if you do become ill and keep you from spreading the virus to your family and others, including those unable to receive a flu shot,” the SCHD says.