The Kentucky Department for Public Health announced on Dec. 12 that the influenza or flu activity in the state had increased from regional to widespread. Widespread is the highest level of flu activity meaning that there are influenza outbreaks or increased influenza-like illnesses (ILI) in at least half of the regions in the state.
Kentucky has laboratory confirmed cases in at least eight regions and increases in ILI in all regions. School closings have resulted in four counties across the state.
Flu activity levels are tracked weekly as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) national flu surveillance system. The Franklin County Health Department participates by collecting flu data from local medical providers and submitting weekly reports to the KDPH, which in turn reports statewide data to the CDC. At least 18 other states have also reported widespread flu activity along with three pediatric deaths.
The flu season begins as early as October and can extend through May with peak activity usually occurring between January and March. The CDC estimates that approximately 23,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. because of the flu and related complications.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches. FCHD Director of Nursing, Tammie Bertram, said, “Use good health practices and stay home if you are sick because presents are not the only thing we give and receive during the holidays. Getting together with relatives and friends can help pass the flu across Kentucky and the nation. Give your family the gift of an influenza-free holiday season and get your influenza vaccine today!”
FCHD provides influenza vaccination to children at all Franklin County Public Schools, Frankfort Independent Schools and daycare centers. Our school nursing program makes this an effective and convenient method of protecting our children and community from influenza. Approximately 2,381 children were vaccinated during the school day this year.
Almost 6,000 influenza vaccines have been administered by FCHD this flu season. FCHD Registered Nurse and Immunization Program Coordinator, Vicky Poplin, also often reminds us that “Good hand washing practices, covering coughs and avoiding touching the face and eyes goes a long way to prevent the spread of illness.”
If you haven’t received your flu vaccine now is the time to do so. Please call 564-7647 for more information or to schedule an appointment. The cost of the vaccine is $25 and Medicare Part B, Medicaid and Humana insurance is accepted.