Two more people have died in Kentucky from influenza this season, bringing that number up to eight, according to the state Department for Public Health weekly flu report.
Kentucky is among states with the highest levels of flu activity, says the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the latest report shows another jump in new cases, bigger than the week before.
In the week ended Dec. 28, the last week for which the state has issued a report, Kentucky had 2,213 new cases of flu, up from 1,339 new cases reported the week before. During this flu season, 5,988 cases have been confirmed in Kentucky. The actual number is higher; 22 of the state's 120 county health departments did not report.
At the same time last year, Kentucky had a total of 1,457 lab confirmed flu test and five deaths, one under the age of 18. One of those who died this year was under 18.
The CDC recommends that everyone over six months of age get a flu vaccination each year. There is still plenty of time to get one; flu season runs through May.
A spokesman from the Lexington-Fayette Health Department stressed the importance of getting a flu shot and told Spectrum News that of the county's 141 lab-confirmed cases of the flu, only about 20% of them had received the flu shot. Fayette County reported 77 new cases during the week.
"What we're seeing right now is just a lack of people getting the flu shot . . . So go out, get the flu shot, whether it's here or at your pharmacy, your medical provider, just get it somewhere," health-department spokesman Kevin Hall told Spectrum News.
Pike County saw a big jump in flu cases during the week ended Dec. 28, with 107 new cases, for a total of 242 this season. Joel Thornbury, a pharmacist at Pikeville's Nova Pharmacy, told Hazard's WYMT-TV Jan. 7 that he had about 100 doses of flu vaccine to give away, as a way to help those who might not otherwise be able to get one.
Barren and adjoining counties continued to be a hotspot, with most of the seven counties doubling or nearly doubling their numbers; most of Allen County's cases being reported that week. Barren reported 126 new cases, for a total of 265; Allen had 31 more for a total of 49; Warren had 100 more for a total of 184; Monroe had 52 more for a total of 110; Hart had 30 more for a total of 61; Metcalfe had 29 more for a total of 58; and Edmonson had two more for a total of seven.
Clark County, which had not reported recently, reported its first 22 cases. Lincoln County, which had been listed as reporting, reported 62 new cases during the week ended Dec. 28, for a total of of 63.
Several other counties saw big jumps. Garrard reported 28 new cases, for a total of 34, Marshall reported 38, for a total of 48, and Shelby reported 38 for a total of 71. Oldham County saw a big jump of 90 new cases for a total of 147.