The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Karen Wandel
RN Jefferson County Health Department 

Jefferson County Joins Several Counties with Early Flu Activity


September 20, 2017

With the first case of influenza confirmed in Jefferson County last week and several others in 5 other Montana counties, it looks like the 2017-18 flu season has begun. Last Friday, the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) announced that 14 laboratory-confirmed influenza infections were reported across the state, with 3 of them hospitalized. Ages of the patients ranged from infant to 91 years. Other counties reporting flu were Cascade, Lewis and Clark, Missoula, Flathead, and Yellowstone.

This is an abrupt start to the season, and it is not possible to predict if the season is going to have sustained activity over the next several months or if it will quiet down for several weeks before it hits the state again.

Regardless, this early show of influenza viruses in Montana does mean that it’s time to get vaccinated. . The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu vaccination for everyone over 6 months of age, especially those at high risk for complications to the flu. These include many groups of people including small children, people 65 and older, those with diabetes, heart, and lung disease.

Vaccinations take about two weeks to become fully effective, and contain either 3 or 4 strains of killed influenza virus. In past years a nasal mist vaccine has been available for some who would rather forego the shot. But for the second flu season in a row, the nasal vaccine is not being recommended because of lower than expected protection against the flu. Flu shots are available now and can be found at most clinics, health departments and pharmacies. Call your vaccine provider to make an appointment.


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