Posted: Oct 3, 2012 7:29 AM by MTN News
Updated: Oct 3, 2012 7:29 AM
HELENA - State health officials report that the flu in Montana, with the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) confirming the state's first influenza cases of this season.
Four cases have been confirmed in Park and Yellowstone counties, in two teens and two adults. This is earlier than in 2011 and 2010 when the first cases were not confirmed until late November.
State, tribal and local public health authorities indicate vaccine is widely available and strongly recommend taking advantage of the vaccine, according to a news release.
State health officials say the influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone older than six months, and that annual vaccination is the safest and most effective method to prevent influenza infections.
"People who received influenza vaccine last year should get vaccinated again this year, particularly as the circulating viruses have changed," said DPHHS Director Anna Whiting Sorrell. "And we urge you to get immunized now. With the options available, getting vaccinated is easier than ever. We'd like to make sure everyone can stay healthy this winter."
Protection provided by vaccination lasts throughout the entire flu season, even when vaccine is given in early fall. A new dose is needed every year to keep up active defense against viruses.
"We have particular concern for people with chronic medical conditions and children and urge them to get vaccinated now," said Lisa Underwood, DPHHS Immunization Program manager. "Those with health issues, young children and senior citizens, are the most at risk for complications, or even death, from the flu. Even with last year's mild season, we had many people hospitalized and three deaths directly attributable to the flu."
People wanting to get immunized, or have their children vaccinated, should consult their health care provider. Vaccinations are available at doctor offices, county or tribal health departments, and many pharmacies.