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Influenza Season Starts Early in Montana

influenza virus
Photo courtesy of Sanofi Pasteur/Flickr

Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services has officially confirmed the state’s first cases of seasonal influenza in 2012.

So far, the four confirmed cases are relegated to Park and Yellowstone counties.

It appears that influenza season is off to a quicker start than normal. In both 2010 and 2011 influenza cases were not confirmed until late November.

In response, DPHHS is advising the public to get an influenza vaccination. This years vaccine has been updated with three of the ever-changing virus’ most current strains.

“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.”

The vaccine is recommended for everyone over six months of age and can be delivered through a high dose shot, a “short needle” shot or through a nasal spray.

“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.

According to DPHHS the vaccine is widely distributed and more information on the vaccine can be found on the Montana DPHHS web site.

 

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