Dept. for Public Health map shows flu cases by county; for a larger version, click on it.
By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
As influenza cases in Kentucky more than doubled in one week, health officials said it’s not too late to get your flu vaccination. Flu season typically peaks in February, but runs through May.
“So it is very important that people get their flu vaccine,” said Brooke Hudspeth, chief practice officer at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. “We know that flu vaccines work and they are very well tolerated. And they are a key way to help prevent complications that we see from the flu.”
The latest weekly report from the state Department for Public Health shows that in the week ended Dec. 11, Kentucky counted 402 new flu cases, up from 195 the previous week prior, an increase of 106%. The state has recorded 695 cases this season. No flu-related deaths have been reported this year.
Fewer adults in Kentucky got a flu vaccine last season, but the state also saw a big drop in cases. During the same reporting week last year, Kentucky had only seven confirmed cases of the flu, and a total of 125 for the season.
The drop was likely due to the strict public-health measures taken against Covid-19 at that time, such as masks and social distancing.
|Kentucky Department for Public Health graphic, click on it for a larger version.|
A county-by-county report shows that Jefferson County, which has more than 750,000 people, had the highest number of cases, reporting 233 in the week ending Dec. 11. Other counties with the highest number of cases that week were Pike, 26; Warren, 22; Oldham, 20; Allen, 18; and Fayette, 18.
Health Commissioner Steven Stack has repeatedly encouraged Kentuckians to get both a Covid-19 vaccination or booster and a flu vaccine.
“With Covid-19 cases escalating and the added threat of circulating flu viruses, it is imperative that every Kentuckian take the essential steps to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities,” Stack said in a news release.
At a Dec. 18 news conference, Stack said this year’s flu vaccine should be quite effective because it contains the H3N2 strain, which is the one that is circulating. “So this year’s vaccine should be very helpful,” he said.
Flu shots are recommended for everyone six months and older and are strongly encouraged for people who may be at higher risk for complications or negative consequences.
Kentucky has a long way to go to get all of its adults vaccinated against the flu.