The number of influenza cases confirmed by the state epidemiology lab began to rise in January, though none was confirmed on the Kenai Peninsula.
About 125 cases of influenza A, influenza B and influenza A-B were confirmed by the state lab during the first month of the year, roughly halfway through the flu season, which runs through spring.
When the flu season first got under way, a nationwide influenza vaccine shortage occurred when a British manufacturer's supplies were deemed unfit for use.
Since that time, due in part to people in low-risk categories voluntarily not seeking flu shots, vaccine supplies are now at sufficient levels to meet the needs of the general public.
"We do still have some maybe less than 200," said Mary Jane Hanley, Kenai Public Health nurse, who also said it's not too late to get a flu shot.
She said the public agency also has pediatric vaccine available for people with babies.
Kenai Public Health conducts immunization clinics in Kenai from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Thursdays in Soldotna at the Elks Club, Hanley said.
"Anyone who wants (a flu shot) can have one," she said.
Shots cost $7 for those able to afford it and are free for children.
When the vaccine was in short supply, availability was restricted to people age 65 and older, children between 6 and 23 months, women who would be pregnant during flu season, people with certain chronic illnesses and health care workers.
Central Peninsula General Hospital has not seen any confirmed cases of influenza this season, according to infection control nurse Janet Gleason.
"We've had a lot of people complaining, but nothing lab confirmed," Gleason said.
Illness usually begins suddenly in people with the flu, and lasts between two and seven days. Symptoms include fever, cough, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.
It is spread from an ill person to others by coughing and sneezing.
The state Division of Public Health recommends rest and drinking lots of fluids, once people get the flu.
Statewide, confirmed flu cases started showing up in November and December and the number began rising in January, when the first cases of influenza B showed up.
Most of the confirmed cases in Alaska are in the Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna Valley area with 196 of the state's 287 cases.
Gleason said people in high-risk categories should get a flu shot if they haven't yet.
"We go well into the summer," Gleason said of the duration of Alaska's flu season.
Suggestions for preventing the spread of influenza include staying home from work or school if people are ill with fever and cough; cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; and wash hands frequently.
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