LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Be careful who you shake hands with around Lexington. There's a good chance that person has the flu.
So far this season, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department has confirmed 141 cases of the flu, with a whopping 77 of those coming in the last six days since the turn of the year.
"Last year at this time we had 42 confirmed cases," said Kevin Hall from the Health Department.
Why such a dramatic increase in the number from the same time one year ago? And why such a large uptick in the last week?
"People aren't being vaccinated," Hall said. "Of the 141 cases, only 20 percent are being seen in people who had the vaccine."
It really is as simple as that. Of course, you can still get the flu after being vaccinated, just ask those 20 percent, but the symptoms and suffering will be significantly reduced compared to someone who has gone without.
"The two strains we're seeing are being covered by the flu shot," said Hall. "So, it's doing a good job of matching up."
Washing your hands on a regular basis and staying at home when you're feeling under the weather will also help reduce the spread.
But health officials say the best solution is to be vaccinated, and most health insurance plans offer that free or charge a small fee.
The Health Department can take care of it as well and they offer six hour windows to do so from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. They are also available on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"Peak flu season doesn't begin until late January and it can run until April or May," said Hall.
Once given, it takes roughly two weeks for the vaccine to take effect.
Until then, a fist bump will be sufficient!