State and local public health officials are seeing an early start to the influenza season. While the season normally begins in October, Montana has had early influenza reports from six counties: Yellowstone, Gallatin, Lewis and Clark, Missoula, Beaverhead and Broadwater Counties.
Influenza can be serious. Last season, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human
Services (DPHHS) recorded 608 hospitalizations and 24 deaths related to influenza.
Being vaccinated is the best way to prevent influenza from affecting you and your family.
Health authorities indicate this season’s vaccine is widely available and recommend taking advantage of it before additional cases increase your risk. The Influenza vaccination is safe and recommended for all individuals older than six months.
The composition of the flu vaccine is reviewed each year and updated to protect against the flu
viruses that research indicates will be the most common during the upcoming season. Flu
vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctor visits, missed work or school as well as prevent flu related hospitalizations and deaths.
Individuals seeking vaccines have many options beyond the typical shot including a high dose flu shot approved for people 65 and older, a “short needle” intradermal flu shot approved for people 18 through 64 years of age, and nasal-spray vaccine. Depending on brand, these vaccines protect against three or four influenza strains.
The Butte-Silver Bow Health Department is holding walk-in flu vaccination clinics on Wednesday, September 23, from 8 a.m. to noon and on October 1, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its office at 25 W. Front Street. If you or your family members are unable to attend a walk-in session, please call the Health Department at (406) 497-5086 to schedule a flu vaccination appointment.