HELENA – Lewis and Clark Public Health say they have received three confirmed reports of Influenza A in county as of Sept. 20 with one person needing hospitalization.
All reported cases so far were in county residents under the age of 25, who reported not having traveled outside the state or had out-of-state visitors recently.
Health officials warn the illness can be potentially deadly to anyone but the very young, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are the most susceptible to the influenza virus.
“It’s definitely time to get your annual flu shot if you haven’t already,” said Shelly Maag, nurse supervisor at the Health Department. “Flu season is here.”
Maag said the peak of flu season in the county is usually from December through February, but strongly recommends everyone over the age of six months get a flu vaccine.
“All of us getting Flu vaccines not only protects ourselves from getting ill, but protects those that can’t handle the disease as well,” said Maag.
Health officials warn that the flu vaccine takes around two weeks to become effective, and people should get their vaccine by the end of October at the latest.
100 years ago this month, Montana saw the first cases of what was called at the time Spanish influenza (H1N1).
During the 1918 global pandemic more than 3,200 Montanans died and an estimated 50 to 100 million people died worldwide.
“This anniversary is a good reminder that we need to take flu seriously,” Maag said.
In the last six weeks, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has confirming 7 influenza cases statewide.
Those cases were reported in children and adults from Big Horn, Gallatin, Missoula, and Lewis and Clark Counties.
Last flu season Montana saw more than 10,000 cases of influenza across the state, with 979 hospitalizations and 79 deaths attributed to the influenza.
Lewis and Clark Public Health wants the public to know flu shots are readily available throughout the community, from local medical providers and pharmacies.
The health department offers them during regular walk-in clinics Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at their 1930 Ninth Avenue location and no appointment is needed.
Below are scheduled flu shot clinics by Lewis and Clark Public Health:
- Lincoln: Friday, Oct. 5, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Lincoln Community Hall.
- Wolf Creek: Tuesday, Oct. 9, 3 to 4 p.m. at Wolf Creek School.
- Helena: Sunday, Oct. 14, 1 to 4 p.m., at Halloween Fun Fest.
- Augusta: Tuesday, Oct. 23, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the Youth and Senior Center.
- East Helena: Thursday, Oct. 25, 9 to 10 a.m., at City Hall.
For more information, call your medical provider or the health department’s flu hotline at 457-8904, or visit the CDC website.