The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that they are seeing significant increases in flu activity in the U.S. in the last two weeks indicating that an early flu season is underway and are encouraging people to get vaccinated. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Ky. health officials increase flu activity to widespread

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Health officials in Kentucky bumped up the influenza activity level from regional to widespread Wednesday, the highest level designation for influenza activity.

The level jump indicates increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state, according to the Kentucky Department of Public Health (DPH).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was notified of the increase as part of a system that tracks flu activity, the national flu surveillance system, according to the DPH.

"With current widespread flu activity being reported in Kentucky, now is a good time to protect yourself and your family by putting a flu shot on your holiday list," said Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, commissioner of DPH. “As the holidays approach, people will be traveling and families will gather together, increasing the potential for exposure to the flu. We are strongly urging anyone who hasn’t received a flu vaccine, particularly those at high risk for complications related to the flu, to check with local health departments or other providers.”

Flu season typically peaks between January and March, and an average of 23,000 deaths have been attributed to seasonal flu each year, according to the DPH.

Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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