State health officials announce first flu-related death of the season

INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) — Indiana health officials are encouraging Hoosiers to get the flu shot after confirming the first flu-related death of the season on Friday.

Hundreds of Hoosiers get the flu each year, and some cases are fatal. During the 2021-22 flu season, 82 Indiana residents died from the disease, according to a press release from the state health department.

No further information about the first fatal case of this season will be released due to privacy concerns, health officials said.

“Each flu season is different, but we expect a return of respiratory illnesses like the flu as more people relax containment measures put in place at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, MD, FACOG. “Getting an annual flu shot now, before activity picks up again, is the best protection against a potentially serious illness for many Hoosiers.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over 6 months get an annual flu shot. Because infants under 6 months of age cannot be vaccinated, it is important that everyone in a household where a young baby lives or visits gets a flu shot to protect the child, the press release said.

Healthcare workers are also being urged to get a flu vaccine to reduce the risk of passing the disease on to their patients.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to form in the body that protect against the flu, so the CDC recommends vaccination early. However, the flu shot can be given at any time during the season, which usually lasts from October to May.

This year’s vaccine appears to work well for Australia’s most common flu subtype, and it can be given at the same time as the new COVID-19 booster, which protects against two strains of COVID-19, Box said.

State health officials said the flu was a respiratory viral infection. It is spread through respiratory droplets released when infected people cough or sneeze nearby, or when people touch surfaces or objects contaminated with these infectious respiratory droplets. People can also become infected by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose.

Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • Cough
  • Muscle cramp
  • Sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose

People can help prevent the spread of the flu by washing their hands frequently and thoroughly, avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth with their hands, and staying home when sick. Hoosiers should practice the “Three Cs” to prevent the spread of the flu and other infectious diseases:

  • Clean: Wash your hands regularly with warm, soapy water.
  • Cover: Cover your cough and sneeze with your arm or a disposable handkerchief.
  • Contain: Stay home from school or work when you are sick to prevent the spread of your germs.

Although anyone can get the flu, some people are at higher risk of flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, hospitalization, and death. Those most at risk for flu complications are pregnant women, young children (especially those too young to get vaccinated), people with chronic illnesses, those with compromised immune systems, and the elderly. It is particularly important that these individuals are vaccinated every year, the press release said.

To learn more about the flu or to view IDOH’s weekly flu report, visit the website. State health officials announce first flu-related death of the season

Dais Johnston

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