Sunday, January 15, 2017

Health officials say flu is widespread, urge a vaccination

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The state Department for Public Health has raised the state's influenza level from "regional" to "widespread," the highest level of flu activity. The widespread level indicates increased outbreaks or flu symptoms in at least half of the state's regions.

The flu virus can cause fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches and can be extremely contagious.

"With widespread flu activity reported in Kentucky, now is a good time to protect yourself and your family by getting a flu shot," Dr. Hiram Polk, public health commissioner, said in a news release. "We urge anyone who hasn’t received a flu vaccine, particularly those at high risk for complications related to the flu, to check with local health departments or other providers."

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older. The CDC strongly encourages certain high-risk groups to get vaccination, including children age 6 months to 5 years and their caregivers, women who are or might be pregnant during flu season, people age 50 and older and their caregivers, obese people, those with chronic health problems, residents of long-term care facilities and health care workers.

Vaccinations can be given at any time during flu season, according to DPH. Flu activity levels are tracked weekly as part of the CDC's nationwide flu surveillance system.

"You should also follow the advice your parents gave you to prevent flu and other illnesses that tend to circulate at this time of year – wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home when you’re sick," Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said in a news release.

For more information on the state's flu levels and what they mean, click here.

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