Flu Watch

Nov 6, 2013 4:30 AM by MTN News - Bozeman

1st confirmed influenza cases reported in Montana

BOZEMAN - It's a dubious honor - the first confirmed cases of influenza have been reported in Gallatin County.

Gallatin City-County Health Department confirmed Tuesday that both cases of influenza had been confirmed in adolescent male residents of Gallatin County.

"Influenza has arrived," said Matt Kelley, Health Officer with the Gallatin City-County Health Department. "Now is the time for everyone to get their flu shots, not only for themselves but also to protect neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family members who are most vulnerable."

National, state, tribal and local public health authorities strongly recommend influenza vaccination for everyone older than six months to fend off viruses that can lead to serious health problems.

Officials say that annual vaccination is the safest and most effective method to prevent influenza infections.

The Gallatin City-County Health Department provides flu shots during weekly walk-in clinics and by appointment at (406) 582.3100.

Health Department officials say influenza can spread rapidly as people begin to travel throughout the holiday season. Individuals who are ill can unknowingly expose vulnerable individuals to the influenza virus.

"Immunizations don't just protect you," said Kelley. "Immunizations protect our community, our neighbors and our friends who are most at risk of severe complications. A flu shot is a great way to serve the community."

Individuals seeking vaccine have many options, including a new quadrivalent shot that covers four versions of flu, a high dose flu shot approved for people 65 and older, a "short needle" intradermal flu shot approved for people 18 through 64 years of age, and the regular and nasal-spray vaccines.

State officials recommend Montanans consult with their local health department or healthcare provider regarding the best option.

"Individuals with asthma, diabetes and many other chronic medical conditions, the elderly, pregnant women and young children can become very ill if infected by influenza", said Jim Murphy, DPHHS Communicable Disease Control and Prevention Bureau Chief. "We urge people to get vaccinated now to protect themselves and others who are vulnerable."

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.

"People who received influenza vaccine last year should get vaccinated this year and every year, as the circulating viruses change," said DPHHS Director Richard Opper. "We urge you to get immunized now. With the options available, getting vaccinated is easier than ever. We'd like to help so everyone can stay healthy this winter."

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.

More information on influenza and a full schedule of flu clinics can be found at www.healthygallatin.org. Additional information may be found at the DPHHS web site: www.dphhs.gov

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