By Carly Williamson– 

Amid Kentucky’s widespread flu activity, Campus Health Services reports 97 students have come down with the flu this season.

You still have time to protect yourself.  Dr. Phillip Bressoud, an assistant professor of medicine and executive director of campus health, said, “Get vaccinated. It’s not too late.”

Although getting vaccinated doesn’t completely guarantee you won’t get the flu, it does help lessen the number of symptoms accompanying the illness and their severity. Free shots are still available to students at campus health.

In Kentucky, 7,825 flu cases have been confirmed. All 17 regions of Kentucky have reported the flu and the number of people affected has continued to rise since mid-January.

Jefferson County has been hit the hardest, making up nearly half of Kentucky’s total. There are 3,715 confirmed cases reported so far.

People aged 11-20 are the second-highest age group to be affected by the flu, only surpassed by children under 11. The average age of a person diagnosed with the flu in Jefferson County is 22.

Dr. Anne Burke, an assistant professor at the U of L Cardinal Station Health Center, says flu cases at U of L have also been high.

Cardinal Health Services has primarily seen confirmed cases of Influenza A. This is on track with national reports from the Center for Disease Control.

Getting vaccinated doesn’t just help the individual, it helps the community by creating herd immunity. Dr. Bressoud said it can be achieved only if 80-95 percent of the population is vaccinated.

The idea is more immune individuals will disrupt the spread of disease. This keeps the “herd” healthy and protects those with weakened immune systems. Campus Health Services administered 5,500 flu vaccines this flu season. The 97 cases have primarily occurred on the Belknap Campus.

Campus health says hand washing is the next best bet against the flu. Avoid touching your face and stay away from people with flu symptoms. If you do get sick, U of L Health Promotions and campus health offer flu kits. Those cotain a personal thermometer, salt to mix with warm water for gargling, acetaminophen or ibuprofen and a cold and flu information card.

Finally, if you’re sick, Dr. Burke asks students to stay home if they can. This will help you get better faster and keep other students safe from infection. The flu can be contagious between one day before symptoms appear to up to one week after. February is a peak season for flu and activity can continue into May.

File Graphic / The Louisville Cardinal