Respiratory viruses keep declining in Kentucky, but rates remain elevated; new study shows updated Covid-19 vaccine is working
By Melissa Patrick
Emergency department visits and hospital admissions for respiratory-related illness in Kentucky have declined four weeks in a row, but the state health department still considers the state’s rates of influenza, Covid-19 and respiratory syncytial virus to be elevated.
Health officials say the best way to protect yourself from these viruses is to stay up to date with your vaccines.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months old and older get the annual flu vaccine and updated Covid-19 vaccines, especially children younger than 5 or anyone at high risk for complications.
Vaccines for respiratory syncitial virus (RSV) are recommended for some infants and young children, pregnant women and adults 60 and older, although a shortage of the vaccine has been reported.
“Updated Covid-19 vaccines provide protection against symptomatic infection, including against currently circulating lineages,” the report says.
The report shows the updated vaccine provides protection against the JN.1 strain of Covid-19, which became predominant in January of this year, and other circulating strains of the virus.
Respiratory viruses in Kentucky
Emergency department visits for respiratory-associated illness in Kentucky in the week ended Jan. 27 stayed about the same as the week prior, dropping 3% from the week prior, to 3,187. Among the three respiratory viruses tracked by the state, flu was the only one to show a slight uptick.
Respiratory-related hospital admissions in Kentucky showed the same trend, dropping 5% from the week prior, to 546. And just like the emergency-department visits, flu was the only one of the three tracked by the state to show a slight uptick.
Even with these declines, the state Department for Public Health says hospitalizations for respiratory illnesses remain high.
In the week ended Jan. 27, the state reported 3,377 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu, up 2.5% from the week prior. It reported 1,994 laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19, down 3.6% from the week prior.
Since the first week in October, 267 Kentuckians have died from Covid-19, and 28 have died from the flu, the health departnment says. One Covid-19 victim and one flu victim were children.
Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.