Department for Public Health Urges Preventive Steps, Flu Vaccination
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 7, 2010) – The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) is reporting that the State Public Health Laboratory detected its first positive influenza specimen this week, indicating the presence of flu in the state. The positive sample came from a Fayette County resident.
DPH will report the results to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) next week as part of statewide flu surveillance efforts conducted throughout the flu season. Kentucky’s flu activity will be reported as “sporadic,” the lowest level indicating flu activity. Surveillance efforts serve as a tracking system to follow the patterns and types of flu each year; they are not meant to reflect a full count of all flu cases.
"We are now beginning to see seasonal flu activity in Kentucky," said Dr. William Hacker, DPH Commissioner. "I encourage all Kentuckians to get a seasonal flu shot or nasal vaccine spray, and urge parents to make sure children older than 6 months also receive protection against the seasonal flu. Getting vaccinated for the flu helps protect the health of your family and communities across the state.”
This year's seasonal flu vaccine includes the H1N1 (swine flu) strain, as well as other strains of flu that are expected to circulate. Kentucky expects local health departments and private health care providers to have plenty of flu vaccine on hand for this year’s season. Kentuckians should contact their health provider or local health department for more information.
“The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department has plenty of flu shots for the community,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Melinda Rowe. “The best way to fight the flu is through a flu shot, and this year’s vaccine helps protect you from both the seasonal flu and H1N1.”
Anyone with questions about Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s flu shot program can call the flu hotline at 288-7529 or visit www.lexflucrew.com. The health department will also be providing free flu shots at a special event 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, at Applebee’s Park.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is now recommending flu vaccine for all individuals older than 6 months of age. People who should especially receive the flu vaccine, because they may be at higher risk for complications or negative consequences include:
• Children age 6 months to 19 years;
• Pregnant women;
• People 50 years old or older;
• People of any age with chronic health problems;
• People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
• Health care workers;
• Caregivers of or people who live with a person at high risk for complications from the flu and out-of-home caregivers of or people who live with children less than 6 months old.
Healthy, non-pregnant people aged 2-49 years can receive either the flu shot or the nasal vaccine spray.
“While we expect there to be plenty of flu vaccine available this year, we urge Kentuckians not to delay in getting their shots or nasal spray vaccinations,” said Dr. Hacker.
The flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May, but usually peaks between January and March. September, October and November are good months to be vaccinated for flu because it takes about two weeks for immunity to develop and offer protection against flu. However, vaccination can be given any time during the flu season. Infection with the flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches.
Health officials also urge Kentuckians to practice common sense precautions to prevent illness, including: avoiding close contact with those who are ill; staying home when sick; covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing; avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth; and frequent hand washing.
For more information on influenza and flu immunizations, please contact your local health department or visit http://healthalerts.ky.gov or the CDC's website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/.