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Kentucky health officials urge vaccination against the flu as best precaution against it; stop the spread

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Kentucky health officials are once again reminding residents to get vaccinated against the flu.

Officials reported 28 laboratory-confirmed cases of flu and one influenza-related death. The state flu activity level is classified as “sporadic.” 

The report consists of laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza that are defined by molecular virus testing and positive virus culture test results.

Two counties in southeast Kentucky lead the state with the most confirmed flu cases: Leslie County with five and Knott County reporting four, during the latest weekly summary, which is issued each Friday.

CDC graphic

“Getting the flu can be debilitating and sometimes life-threatening,” said Dr. Jeffrey Howard, commissioner of the Department for Public Health. “Vaccination is the best tool we have to prevent the flu.”

Howard said it is also extremely important to take simple preventive steps to avoid the flu and other illnesses that tend to circulate at this time of year. He recommended frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and remaining at home when sick.

The flu vaccine is especially important, according to health officials, after the severe season experienced last year across the U.S. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported there were more than 900,000 flu-related hospitalizations, and more than 80,000 people died as a result of flu. 

In Kentucky, there were 333 flu-related deaths, five of which were children. Of the pediatric flu deaths reported last season, more than one-third occurred among healthy children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years.

The CDC recommends flu vaccine for all individuals six months of age and older.

People who are strongly encouraged to receive the flu vaccine because they may be at higher risk for complications or negative consequences include:

• Children age six months through 59 months. 

• Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season. 

• All people 50 years of age or older.

• Those with extreme obesity (a Body Mass Index of 40 or greater).

–Persons aged six months and older with chronic health problems.

• Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

• Household contacts (including children) and caregivers of children under five years old, particularly contacts of children aged under six months old, and adults 50 or older.

• Household contacts and caregivers or people who live with a person at high-risk for complications from the flu.

• Health care workers, including physicians, nurses, and other workers in inpatient- and outpatient-care settings, medical emergency response workers, employees of nursing home and long-term care facilities who have contact with patients or residents, and students in these professions who will have contact with patients.

Adequate supplies of flu vaccine are expected to be available throughout the season at local health departments and medical providers. Vaccinations can be given any time during the season, but officials recommend the sooner, the better.

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