KALISPELL – Two Flathead County residents have become the first Montana residents to suffer influenza-related deaths this flu season.

The Flathead City-County Health Department reports that both of the victims were over the age of 65.  Local health officials say that because of the influenza presence in Flathead County it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot.

Influenza vaccination is the best way to prevent getting the flu, but it takes up to two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza, including:

  • People 65 years and older
  • Children younger than 5, but especially younger than 2
  • People with certain chronic health conditions such as asthma and COPD, diabetes (both type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurological conditions, and those with weakened immune systems
  • Pregnant women

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The symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, and, especially in children, stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

People usually become ill one to three days after being infected. Complications can include pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration and a worsening of other chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and congestive heart failure.

Other ways to prevent transmitting flu include, covering a cough, frequent handwashing and staying home when you are ill. Influenza virus usually spreads person to person by coughing or sneezing. It is also possible to become infected by touching something with flu virus on it and then touching your mouth or nose.

Most adults are infectious one day before they have symptoms until five-to-seven days after becoming ill, according to the Flathead City-County Health Department.

Click here for any additional information about the flu.