Officials say it’s not too late to vaccinate

HELENA – Local and state public health officials are reporting an increase in influenza activity and reminding Montanans that it’s not too late to vaccinate.

Influenza season typically peaks in February and can last as late as May, according to Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Director Anna Whiting Sorrell. “We are encouraging people who have not yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated now.”

Each year, millions of people are infected with influenza, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized, and thousands die from its complications.

Public health officials stress that every Montanan aged 6 months and older should receive the influenza vaccine each year. Getting vaccinated protects the person getting the vaccine and the community. The influenza vaccine is available in two forms: a shot and a nasal spray. The nasal spray is for use in healthy people ages 2 to 49 years who aren’t pregnant.

Anyone can get influenza, but some are at greater risk for serious complications. These can include pneumonia, hospitalization and even death. Getting the flu vaccine is especially important for those at greater risk for complications. People at greater risk include:

– Children younger than 5 years old, especially those younger than 2
– Pregnant women
– People with certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease
– People 65 years and older

It’s also important to get the vaccine if you care for or live with anyone at greater risk. It is especially important for those caring for infants younger than 6 months to get vaccinated because infants less than 6 months old cannot be vaccinated.

Vaccines are available from your doctor, local health department, and at many retail pharmacies. For more information about influenza or the vaccine, talk to your doctor or nurse, visit cdc.gov/flu or call CDC at (800) CDC-INFO.