Health and Family Services Cabinet
Widespread Flu Activity Continues Across Kentucky
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Mar. 4, 2008) – Kentucky’s influenza (flu) activity continues to be classified as “widespread” for the fifth consecutive week, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) announced today.
The “widespread” classification indicates the highest level of flu activity, with 722 state laboratory-confirmed flu cases in all regions of the state. Last week, 49 of the 50 U.S. states also reported widespread influenza activity.
“Although the flu season is well under way, there is still time to get vaccinated against flu, especially since outbreaks could continue to occur for an additional two months,” said William Hacker, M.D., commissioner of DPH and acting undersecretary for health at the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “An annual flu vaccine – either the flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine – is the best way to reduce the chances of getting the flu, and vaccine supply is plentiful this year.”
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that the severity of this year’s flu season could partly be a result of some unexpected flu strains that are circulating. The new strains are closely related to, but do not completely match, the flu viruses in the current flu vaccine. CDC officials recommend people continue to receive flu immunizations because the current vaccine still offers at least partial protection against the severity of the flu. The vaccine also will provide protection for the remainder of the flu season against circulating influenza strains that are well matched in this year’s vaccine. Kentucky-specific data indicate that some of the strains circulating in the state are exact matches with the vaccine.
While it can be a serious disease that can result in extended time away from work and school, flu is preventable. About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against flu virus infection.
Although almost anyone who wants protection against influenza can receive a flu shot, annual flu vaccinations are particularly recommended for: all children ages 6-59 months (6 months to 4 years of age); adults 65 or older; people age 2-64 with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, cancer, asthma or diabetes; women who will be pregnant during flu season; residents of nursing homes and long-term care
facilities; children 6 months to 18 years old on chronic aspirin therapy; health care workers; household
contacts of children less than 6 months old; and caregivers of people with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from the flu. All healthy individuals ages 50 to 64 are also strongly recommended to receive flu vaccine.
In addition to flu vaccine, state health department officials encourage all adults age 65 or older and others in high risk groups to ask their health care provider about the pneumoccocal vaccine. This vaccine can help prevent pneumonia, one of the flu’s most serious and potentially deadly complications.
For more information about flu and pneumonia vaccine availability, contact your local health department or primary care provider.