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posted on January 12, 2011 07:19

 Flu illness begins to increase in Idaho; people urged to take precautions

Idaho health officials are beginning to get reports of flu-like activity from around the state, prompting them to remind Idahoans to get vaccinated against the flu.

“While unpredictable, flu seasons often peak between January and March,” says Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Leslie Tengelsen. “We are now hearing increasing reports of influenza infections and hospitalizations. If you haven’t already been vaccinated against the flu, now is the time to protect yourself and your family.”

There is a record amount of flu vaccine available this season – an estimated 160 million doses nationwide. Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone over the age of six months. Infants are too young to be vaccinated, but are at high risk for flu complications so all family members are strongly encouraged to help protect them by getting vaccinated.

Last year in Idaho, 23 people died from complications of the flu, with an additional 309 people hospitalized. The dominant flu strain last year was the 2009 H1N1 virus. The vaccine this year protects against both the 2009 H1N1 and seasonal influenza strains which are currently circulating.

 

Along with the vaccine, Tengelsen advises people to follow these recommendations to protect themselves:

 

  • Cover your cough with a tissue or sleeve.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after you’ve been in public places.
  • Travel only when you are feeling well. If you have flu symptoms, wait to travel until at least 24 hours after you are fever free without the use of fever-reducing medication.

 

Additional information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s flu site, www.cdc.gov/flu or from your local public health district.

 

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(Editors: For more information please contact DHW Public Information Officer Emily Simnitt at 208-334-0693 or you local Public Health District Public Information Officer.)