The Billings Outpost

Flu cases on the rise

Local and state public health officials are reporting an increase in influenza activity and reminding all Montanans that it is not too late to vaccinate.

“Influenza season typically peaks in February and can last as late as May,” says 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.

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 are not pregnant.

Those at greater risk include:

Children younger than 5 years old, but especially children younger than 2 years old.

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.

Getting the influenza vaccine is more convenient than ever. Vaccines are available from your doctor, local health department, and at many retail pharmacies. The annual vaccine supply continues to grow, so everyone who wishes to can get the vaccine.

Please remember: the influenza vaccine is the single best way to prevent influenza and its serious complications.

For more information about influenza or the influenza vaccine, talk to your doctor or nurse, visit www.cdc.gov/flu or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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