HELENA — Flu season is quickly approaching, and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) say the best defense is a flu shot.
Stillwater Billings Clinic Community Health has already reported a confirmed case of Influenza Type A in Montana this month.
DPHHS recommends everyone age 6 months or older should get the influenza vaccine yearly.
“We recommend that because we really want to protect the population,” said Stacey Anderson, DPHHS epidemiologist. “Not only for yourself, but you want to think about the people around you who also need protection from the flu. So folks who are at high risk like the elderly or folks who have compromised immune systems.”
Anderson recommends people have their sot by the end of October, but should know it can take up to two weeks for the vaccination to take full effect.
“Influenza comes around every year,” said Anderson. “We can’t predict what’s going to happen. The only thing that is predictable about the influenza strain is that it is unpredictable. We could have a mild season or a severe season.”
Montana’s 2018-2019 flu season saw 13,576 state confirmed cases with 767 hospitalizations and 38 deaths.
Of the hospitalizations, only 53 percent of adults and 30 percent of children had received an influenza vaccination before becoming sick.
DPHHS also recommend families make sure their children are up to date on all of their vaccinations such as their MMR booster, Chicken Pox and Pertussis.
More information about immunization and resources available can be found on theDPHHS website.