Flu season has arrived in Idaho – Get your annual vaccination by end of October!

Flu ShotsWe at the Department of Health and Welfare have started tracking flu season, and you know what that means — it’s time to get the annual flu vaccine. We have had some indications that the season may hit us earlier this year than in recent years, so don’t delay. Flu season can last from October to May, and it typically peaks anytime between December and March. 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

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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

Southern Idaho man has died from a flu-related illness

A southern Idaho man over the age of 50 has died from an influenza-related illness. This is Idaho’s first influenza-associated death of the season, and a reminder that the influenza season is here. Last flu season, 26 people were reported to have died from flu-related illnesses in Idaho.

“We’d like to express our condolences to the family of the man who died,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s State Influenza Surveillance coordinator. “This underscores the idea that influenza is in our communities, as well as how important it is for all of us to take precautions to avoid influenza infections, which can be serious for even otherwise healthy people. Now is the time to visit your health care provider, local public health district, or pharmacy to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated today will help protect you and your family over the holidays and for the rest of the influenza season.”

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that infects 5 to 20 percent of the population every year. Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and sometimes a cough and sore throat. Most people who get influenza recover after a few days, but some people may develop serious complications and even die. Every year, the flu contributes to an estimated 36,000 deaths in the United States, along with more than 200,000 hospitalizations.  Continue reading

It’s time to get your yearly flu vaccine

It’s time to get the annual flu vaccine so you’re ready for flu season, which can run from October to May. Flu activity typically peaks anytime between December and March, and positive flu tests are already showing up this year. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from what can be a serious infection, even for otherwise healthy people.

There are some new recommendations for the flu vaccines this year. Can you talk about those?

The yearly recommendation that everyone over the age of the 6 months get the flu vaccine has not changed. But you will notice the lack of a nasal vaccine this year. It was commonly called the flu mist. Research has shown that it wasn’t as effective as the flu shot for several years, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that people should get the injection instead.  Continue reading

It’s not too late to get the flu. Seriously.

Don’t let the warmer temperatures fool you – flu is still circulating widely in Idaho. The number of flu-related deaths has seen a bump in the past several weeks, and public health officials are advising Idahoans to take precautions to avoid getting sick.

“It’s a very late season compared to previous seasons,” said DHW’s State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn. “People are still at risk for serious complications related to the flu. This season’s vaccine is a good match for the circulating strains. If you haven’t gotten it yet, it would be a good idea to do so.”

So far this season, the state has had reports of 16 flu-related deaths, many of which didn’t happen until the last couple of months. The number of deaths typically lags behind the season, so it’s possible there will be more. The state reported 32 flu-related deaths during the 2014-2015 flu season.  Continue reading

It’s prime time for respiratory infections, including colds, flu, and RSV

It’s the time of year when one germ after another makes the rounds and makes us cough. Respiratory infections are particularly troublesome, especially for children and the elderly, and there are more than cold and flu viruses to be aware of.

Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus, or RSV, is a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. Healthy people who get it usually have mild, cold-like symptoms and recover in a week or two. But it can be very serious for babies and older adults. We’re starting to see some cases in Idaho, as we do every year heading into the winter months. Continue reading