While health departments across the state have amped up their efforts regarding influenza, the Jessamine County Health Department hasn’t had a confirmed case during this flu season.
“There haven’t been any cases reported to us, but it is important to note that most providers do their rapid flu testing, and those do not get reported to us,” said Kylie Chilton, JCHD epidemiologist. “The only time we get it is when it’s a culture. So this flu season, I haven’t had any cases.”
Across the state, flu activity increased from regional to widespread, according to the Kentucky Department of Public Health (DPH).
“With current widespread flu activity being reported in Kentucky, now is a good time to protect yourself and your family by putting a flu shot on your holiday list,” Stephanie Mayfield, M.D., commissioner of DPH, said in a news release. “As the holidays approach, people will be traveling and families will gather together, increasing the potential for exposure to the flu. We are strongly urging anyone who hasn’t received a flu vaccine, particularly those at high risk for complications related to the flu, to check with local health departments or other providers.”
The flu season can begin as early as October and last through May, and usually peaks between January and March. It takes about two weeks for immunity from the vaccine to develop and offer protection against flu.
Vaccinations can be given any time during the flu season, and this year there is a plentiful vaccine supply, according to the DPH.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends flu vaccine for all individuals 6 months of age and older.
People who are especially encouraged to receive the flu vaccine, because they may be at higher risk for complications or negative consequences, include:
• Children age 6 months to 19 years;
• Pregnant women;
• People 50 years old or older;
• People of any age with chronic health problems;
• People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
• Health care workers;
• Caregivers of or people who live with a person at high risk for complications from the flu; and
• Out-of-home caregivers of or people who live with children less than 6 months old.
Influenza strains currently circulating most widely in Kentucky appear to be covered by this season’s vaccine, according to officials.
About 23,000 deaths due to seasonal flu and its complications occur on average each year in the U.S., according to recently updated estimates from the CDC. However, actual numbers of deaths vary from year to year. For more information on influenza or the availability of flu vaccine, contact your local health department or visit healthalerts.ky.gov.