BOISE -- Three Idaho women have died from flu-related causes, according to public health officials.
Two of the deaths were in southwest Idaho and the other is from southeast Idaho. All three of the women were over 50 years old. These are the first flu-related deaths in Idaho in 2012.
“Our thoughts are with the families of the people who died from complications of the flu,” said Dr. Kathryn Turner, PhD, Communicable Disease Prevention Bureau Chief at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. “With the holiday season fast approaching, we strongly urge people to be vaccinated for flu so they and their loved ones remain healthy through the season.”
This year's flu season has come on earlier than in previous years. Health officials says that makes it even more critical that people get vaccinated as soon as possible, especially those at high risk.
People at higher risk include infants, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, and people 65 and older.
The flu vaccine protects against three different strains of the flu that have been going around. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months older and older be vaccinated unless they have a severe allergy to chicken eggs or have had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine in the past.
“This years’ flu vaccine is a great match to the circulating strains,” Turner said. “However, it takes about two weeks before peak antibody levels are reached and the vaccine’s protection is maximized. Unfortunately, only about a third of adults and 40 percent of children have received the flu vaccine so far this season. We’d really like to see an increase in vaccinations so people have a better chance at staying healthy.”
Most people who get the flu recover after a few days, but it is possible to develop serious complications and die from the virus.
Here are some tips to help prevent getting or spreading the flu:
• Cover mouths and noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to prevent infecting other people.
• Avoid people who appear sick.
• Stay home from work when sick,
• Wash hands frequently, especially after being out in the public. Avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths until they have washed their hands.
• Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, eat nutritious foods and take part in physical activity to stay healthy.