An update on Idaho’s flu season

Idaho’s flu season typically lasts from October through May, and the Department of Health and Welfare has received reports of 57 flu-related deaths this season. That makes it the third most severe flu season in a decade. Idaho typically sees an average of 22 flu-related deaths each season. Now that this season is winding down, I encourage all Idahoans to plan now to get an annual flu vaccine in the fall. We would love to see an increase in the percentage of Americans who get the flu vaccine each year because that means fewer people will require hospitalization from flu complications.

How does the seasonal flu vaccine, which is not 100 percent effective, help us avoid getting the flu?

The flu vaccine works! It reduces your risk of getting the flu, and even more critically, it reduces your risk of landing in the hospital with complications from the flu. This is especially important for people at high risk of getting very sick — for example, children with asthma, adults with heart disease, and elderly people. Just over 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized for flu-related complications every season, on average.

Do you have to get it every year?

Yes, because immunity decreases over time, and because the viruses in your community are always changing. Flu infects anywhere from 5-20 percent of the population every year. Continue reading

A northern Idaho woman older than 50 is Idaho’s first flu-related death this season

Idaho’s first influenza-related death of the 2018-2019 influenza season occurred this week in a northern Idaho woman over the age of 50.

“The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is reminding residents that flu can be serious” said Randi Pedersen, the Idaho Influenza Surveillance Coordinator. “The most important action to take to prevent serious illness is to get a flu vaccine now.”

Last year’s flu season was particularly deadly, resulting in a record 101 influenza-related deaths in Idaho. That number was quadruple the average of 25 deaths each season over the last decade.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that infects anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of the population every year. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, or fatigue. Most people who get influenza recover after a few days, but some people may develop serious complications.

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#FightFlu Idaho, and get your annual flu shot now to protect yourself this season!


As you may have heard, the last flu season was particularly severe, resulting in more than 80,000 deaths in the nation and 101 deaths in Idaho. The flu season here can last from October to May, and typically peaks in January or February. Getting vaccinated now is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from what can be a serious infection, even for otherwise healthy people. Continue reading

The flu season that was…was deadly – Plan to get your flu shot this fall


Idaho has reported 101 flu-related deaths this season, making it the deadliest flu season in Idaho in several decades. Our state typically sees an average of 22 flu-related deaths each season, and the season lasts from October through May each year. Now that this season is over, I would like to encourage you to plan now for getting your annual flu vaccine in the fall. Public health officials in Idaho would love to see an increase in the 40-50 percent of Americans who get the flu vaccine each year.  Continue reading

Number of flu-related deaths in Idaho jumps to 13

Idaho is seeing more influenza-related deaths at this point in the season than in the same timeframe in the previous seven seasons, and public health officials are concerned. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has received five new reports in one week of Idahoans who died from an influenza-related illness, bringing the season total to 13 deaths.

“Flu is widespread in Idaho and may be especially severe this season,” said Randi Pedersen, the state influenza surveillance coordinator. “Unfortunately, this flu season is far from over. Influenza activity typically peaks in Idaho in January or early February. If you haven’t yet gotten the vaccine, it is not too late! Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your family from this serious illness.”

Everyone over six months of age is recommended to get the flu vaccine, unless they have medical reasons to avoid it.

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Northern Idaho man dies from flu-related illness as flu season gets an early start

A northern Idaho man over the age of 50 has died from an influenza-related illness.

“The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is warning residents that the flu season appears to have arrived early this year, with this first influenza-related death of the season and early reports of flu activity from other parts of the state,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, the state influenza surveillance coordinator. “This underscores how important it is for all of us to take precautions now to avoid influenza infections. In addition to washing your hands and staying home if you are sick, visit your health care provider, local public health district, or pharmacy to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Getting vaccinated today will help protect you and your family now and for the rest of the influenza season.”

This is Idaho’s first influenza-associated death of the season. The first reported influenza-related death last season didn’t occur until December. Last flu season, 72 people were reported to have died from flu-related illnesses in Idaho. On average, 23 people die from flu-related illness each year, based on data from 2009-2010 through 2015-2016 flu seasons.  Continue reading

Increase in deaths prompts warning for people to take precautions against the flu 

Flu deaths are on the rise across Idaho, with this year’s influenza season shaping up to be one of the most severe in recent memory.

“We are aware of 47 influenza-related deaths in Idaho so far this season, which includes 36 verified flu deaths and 11 current reports that are in the process of verification,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, state influenza surveillance coordinator. “This is one of the most severe flu seasons in the state since 2000.”  Continue reading