Flu infections reaching “widespread” levels in EKY

Flu shots in EKY
Flu shots in EKY(WYMT)
Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 3:59 PM EST
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - The flu is spreading rapidly in Eastern Kentucky, and healthcare officials are busy tracking the numbers.

“Almost all of the lab confirmed cases are type-A, which the influenza vaccine targets the H1N1 type-A,” Pike County Public Health Director Tammy Riley said.

Nearly half of Kentucky’s positive cases for the year came through last week.

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The rate is so high that pharmacies are falling behind.

“There’s quite a bit of shortage, drug shortage, on liquid ibuprofen, liquid Tylenol, especially for kids dosing. Luckily, I kind of saw that coming. We stocked up on it. I’ve had kind of ample supplies, but even us, we’re starting to run a little bit lower on things,” pharmacist at Hometown Pharmacy Tyler Wells said.

Over half of the lab confirmed cases in Pike County have also been this past week, bringing them up to the sixth highest rate in Kentucky.

The increase is sounding an alarm to healthcare officials to get locals vaccinated before the holidays.

“There’s about a two week window for the body to receive the full immune response, so we have that window now. There’s still enough opportunity and time,” Tammy Riley said.

Even if the vaccine does not stop you from getting the flu, Riley said it will slow down the severity.

“When you track hospitalizations and deaths, we know that vaccines reduce disease severity. They reduce hospitalizations, and they reduce deaths,” she said.

State officials are considering the flu to be “widespread” now, which is the highest level of infection risk an illness can be.