Influenza is now widespread in Kentucky, the Kentucky Department for Public Health said Tuesday.
Widespread activity is the highest level of flu activity, which indicates increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state. The activity was previously ranked as regional, a lower classification.
"With current widespread flu activity being reported in Kentucky and across much of the nation, now is a good time to protect yourself and your family by getting vaccinated for flu," said Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, commissioner of the Department for Public Health.
"We are strongly urging anyone who hasn't received a flu vaccine, particularly those at high risk for complications related to the flu, to check with their health care provider, local health department or pharmacy about vaccine availability."
January is still a good time to get vaccinated against the flu because peak activity often comes in the early months of the year. Vaccination can be given any time during the flu season, and there is a plentiful vaccine supply this season. Because it takes approximately two weeks for vaccine to become fully effective, Kentuckians should not delay vaccination, Mayfield said.
People who are especially encouraged to 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; • Young and middle-aged adults for the 2013-2014 influenza season; • 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.