And with the flu season in full swing and not expected to improve any time soon, Deputy Health Commissioner Kraig Humbaugh said it’s not too late to get a flu shot and “Practically everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine.” He added, “Even though this year’s flu vaccine is not as well matched to covering the circulating strains as we would like to see, it is still the best way to prevent the flu.”
“The types of people that are likely to experience severe illness are the young, the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic illness,” Humbaugh said. “That is why we especially want those folks to receive a flu vaccine each year.”
Last flu season, there were approximately 50 flu-related deaths. “All areas of the state have been affected by flu deaths and have been affected by the circulating flu this year,” Humbaugh said.
He noted that 19 of the 26 reported deaths were among people 65 and older. He encouraged seniors to get vaccinated because they have the highest risk of complications from the flu and are most likely to be hospitalized because of it. Typically,70 percent of seniors are vaccinated. Among the other reported deaths, two were children and five were aged 18 to 64.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are urging doctors to prescribe more antiviral medication to help patients heal faster, saying in a news release, “Evidence from the current and previous influenza seasons suggests that they are severely underutilized.”