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Health and Family Services Cabinet
State's Flu Activity Now Classified as Widespread

Press Release Date:  Thursday, February 07, 2008  
Contact Information:  Media Contact: Gwenda Bond or Barbara Fox
(502) 564-6786
 


FRANKFORT, KY (Feb. 7, 2008) - Kentucky’s influenza (flu) activity has been classified as “widespread,” the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) announced today.

The “widespread” classification indicates the highest level of flu activity, with laboratory-confirmed flu cases occurring in at least half of the regions of the state,

But DPH officials want Kentuckians to know the opportunity to get vaccinated for flu and pneumonia is still available.

“We are letting our residents know that it is not too late to vaccinate against flu and pneumonia, especially since there is a plentiful supply of flu vaccine this year,” 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.”

Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Flu is responsible for approximately 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths a year in the United States. Infants and the elderly population are most at risk of serious illness, hospitalization or death from the flu.

While it can be a serious disease that can result in extended time away from work and school, influenza 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 pneumoccal 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.
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Last Updated 2/7/2008