The Kentucky Department of Public Health is sharing the following information regarding this year’s increase in influenza and asking for help from providers to continue encouraging flu vaccination among patients. Key points from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) include:
- Seasonal influenza activity is elevated across the country.
- The majority of influenza viruses detected this season have been influenza A(H3N2) viruses, but the proportion of subtyped influenza A viruses that are A(H1N1) is increasing slightly.
- Two more influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported this week, for a total of seven pediatric flu deaths reported so far this season.
- CDC estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 4.4 million illnesses, 38,000 hospitalizations, and 2,100 deaths from flu.
- The cumulative hospitalization rate in the FluSurv-NET system is higher than the rate observed in week 45 during every previous season since 2010-2011.
- The majority of influenza viruses tested are in the same genetic subclade as and antigenically similar to the influenza viruses included in this season’s influenza vaccine.
- An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against flu. Vaccination helps prevent infection and can also prevent serious outcomes in people who get vaccinated but still get sick with flu.
- CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu vaccine annually. Now is a good time to get vaccinated.
- There are also prescription flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat flu illness; those need to be started as early as possible.
Updated Kentucky-specific flu data is available here: https://www.chfs.ky.gov/agencies/dph/dehp/idb/SeasonalInfluenza/IARWK45.pdf