flu season

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Even though it’s late in the season, the number of flu cases is on the rise in Kentucky.  State health experts are still encouraging vaccination.

For the ninth week in a row, the flu activity level is widespread, meaning that at least half of the state’s regions are reporting an increase in cases of the flu.  The traditional flu season lasts from October through May.  Increased flu activity began later this season than usual in Kentucky.  Due to the late peak in the season, both in Kentucky and nationally, increased flu activity is anticipated to continue well into May.

Teresa Casey, a registered nurse at the Barren River District Health Department in Bowling Green, says people should think of others when they consider getting the vaccine.

"You may not decide to get the flu vaccine because you never get sick, but think about the people you are around, and if you did get the flu, who you would pass that on to," stated Casey.

Tennessee's county health department clinics are now offering free flu vaccines to people of all ages until supplies are depleted.

The state Health Department reports that seasonal influenza is now widespread in Tennessee.

The Department urges all Tennesseans to get vaccinated now to help protect themselves and those around them from the virus.

The Health Department operates clinics in 89 of Tennessee's 95 counties.

Because vaccine supplies vary from county to county, residents are urged to contact their local county health departments for more information.

Kentucky health officials say flu cases are being seen earlier this year.  State epidemiologist Dr. Kraig Humbaugh says it's hard to predict if that could mean a more severe flu season or if we'll reach peak season earlier. "We've already reached what we call a regional level of flu activity in the state and that's one level away from widespread and that's the highest category," explains Humbaugh.

Flu season in Kentucky typically peaks in January or February.  The earliest flu activity this season was reported in August in eastern Kentucky.  Dr. Humbaugh says the number of statewide cases has climbed over the past few weeks. 

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of six months.