Influenza is circulating much more widely and much earlier than in previous years, according to a Flu Snapshot published Wednesday by the State Department of Health’s Division of Public Health.
In Public Health ECHOs in October and November, State Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin discussed the trend, which has been observed since the start of this year’s flu season.
That trend is continuing to hold, with data presented in the Flu Snapshot showing that the number of positive lab reports of influenza this week is higher than the peaks of the last four seasons — from 2018 to the beginning of this year. In the week ending Dec. 3, more than 1,400 positive lab reports were counted.
“Activity is increasing week over week, indicating that influenza activity has likely not peaked yet,” the snapshot reads.
Peaks in previous seasons have come much later, between January and March.
Health officials are urging vaccination against influenza and COVID-19 to lessen the strain on hospitals.
According to the state’s Flu Vaccination Dashboard, 18% of Alaska residents have received this year’s flu vaccine. In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 14.5% of residents are vaccinated.
More information about vaccines and availability for both influenza and COVID-19 can be found at myhealth.alaska.gov.
Reach reporter Jake Dye at email@example.com.