Reina P. Cunningham
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the amount of flu cases are continuing to increase across the United States. The highest levels of activity are currently in the south central and southeastern regions.
Kentucky is no exception to these increased levels of flu cases. While there is not a confirmed number of Kentucky flu cases available at this time, cases have been increasing.
“We hit widespread about a week and a half ago (and since then) there have been quite a few cases,” said Dr. Mary Ann Pennington, regional epidemiologist.
The CDC stresses it is not too late to get vaccinated. Vaccination is the single most important step you can take to protect yourself and others against infection.
Even though there are many different types of flu viruses, the flu vaccine protects against the three viruses suggested by research to be the most common. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine.
The Bell County Health Department is currently out of the flu vaccine and is not expected to receive anymore vaccines this season.
The Claiborne County Health Department still has the flu vaccine available in very limited supplies. Bell County residents can receive the flu vaccine at the Claiborne Health Department.
“Anyone, regardless of where they reside, can get the vaccine on a first come, first serve basis,” said Tamara Chavez-Lindell, regional epidemiologist.
Middlesboro ARH Hospital staffs 12 doctors throughout several different clinics in Bell county.
According to Shirley Lovell, infection control coordinator at Middlesboro ARH, “Most influenza occurs from October through May,” said Lovell. “At Middlesboro ARH Hospital, we typically see an increase in the flu during the months of January and February. If you have flu-like symptoms, see your primary care provider.”
We were unable to confirm whether any of Middlesboro ARH’s clinics still have the flu vaccine.
The only medical office in Middlesboro who confirmed they did still has the flu vaccination available was Dr. Barry Neil’s office.
There are only three pharmacies in Middlesboro currently offering the flu vaccine. Jeff’s Pharmacy and People’s Choice Pharmacy say they still have plenty of vaccines. The Food City Pharmacy were down to their last two vaccines at press time.
According to the CDC, manufacturers distribute the vaccines as production is completed. Distribution of vaccine can begin as early as August and continue throughout the fall. Most seasons, vaccine distribution is completed by December or January. If this is the case for Southeast Kentucky, residents may not have many local options to get their flu shot.
You can reach Reina Parker Cunningham at email@example.com or by phone at 606-248-1010, ext. 205.