Flu cases in Kentucky remain steady, but cases are increasing in most counties; season runs through May, so shots still help U.S. Department for Health and Human Services

U.S. Department for Health and Human Services

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

For the second week in a row, state data shows flu cases are increasing in most Kentucky counties, but the weekly number of new, lab-confirmed influenza cases in Kentucky remained below 300.

The latest weekly report from the state Department for Public Health shows that in the week ended Jan. 1, Kentucky counted 258 new flu cases. The state has recorded 1,861 cases this season and not reported any flu-related deaths.

Most lab-confirmed flu cases continue to be in people between 1 and 30, with the highest rate among those 11 to 20.

Health officials continue to encourage everyone six months and older to get a flu shot, because it’s the best defense in fighting the flu.

It’s also important to  remember that it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body to provide protection against the flu virus, which is why it’s important to get vaccinated before the virus starts to spread in your community.

A 2021 National Foundation for Infectious Diseases survey, of 1,126 adults last August found that the top reason they cited for not getting a flu shot was that they thought it doesn’t work very well.

Effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies from year to year depending on whether the circulating strain of the virus is a good “good match” with the composition of the flu vaccine, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s still important to a shot each year because it prevents millions of illnesses and studies show it reduces severity of illness and reduces the risk of being hospitalized.

Survey respondents also said they would not get a flu shot because they never get the flu; had concerns about side effects; did not think the flu caused serious illness; and worried about getting flu from the vaccine.

“A flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness,” says the CDC. That’s because the vaccines are either made with an inactivated, non-infectious virus or with proteins from a flu virus.

Side effects from a flu vaccine are usually mild and short, and include soreness or redness at the injection site, mild headache, fever, muscle aches, nausea and fatigue.

Influenza is worse. It may cause bad cold-like symptoms, like sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, hoarseness, and cough. But it can also lead to more serious illness and even death.

State Department for Public Health map; click to enlarge

The CDC’s 2021-22 preliminary in-season flu burden estimates, which run from Oct. 1 through Jan. 8, show that the U.S. has had between 16,000 and 33,000 flu hospitalizations and between 970 and 2,900 flu deaths.

Jefferson County, Kentucky’s most populous, typically has the most new cases each week. It reported 42 in the week ended Jan. 1. Other counties with significant numbers of cases that week were Pike, 36; Allen, 35; Warren, 23; Fayette, 15; Kenton, 14; Floyd, 13; and Franklin, 13.
The flu is considered to be widespread in Kentucky, a classification that is applied when increases in flu cases have been confirmed in at least half of the state’s 16 regions. In the week ended Jan. 1, the flu had been detected in 12 of the state’s 16 regions. Flu season runs through May.
State table via Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the CDC
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