Health

About half of Kentuckians got a flu shot during either the 2017 or 2018 flu seasons, according to a new poll from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Fifty-four percent of 1,569 adults surveyed by telephone between August and October this year said they got a flu shot within the last 12 months. About half of the people who didn’t get vaccinated said one reason they did not was because they thought either the flu shot could make them sick or wasn’t effective, according to Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky president Ben Chandler.

“One of the chief reasons cited by people for not getting a flu shot was that there was a misperception that the shot actually causes the flu — it does not,” Chandler said. “That is a misperception.”

About 17 percent of those who didn’t get a flu shot said they it was either because they didn’t know where to get one, it was too expensive or they didn’t have health insurance. There were 333 flu-related deaths in Kentucky in the 2017-2018 season, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

“We want people to understand that the flu is not like a bad cold, you can die from it,” Chandler said. “It’s extremely important that people get the flu shot, not only for themselves, but for everybody around them, because it’s highly communicable.”

Chandler said the 54 percent of Kentuckians who received a flu shot is an improvement from previous years when an average of 37 percent of people received the flu shot.

Since October there have been 217 cases of the flu, with two reported deaths in people over the age of 18.  The majority of cases are in Jefferson and Perry counties.

Lisa Gillespie is WFPL's Health and Innovation Reporter.