Indiana health officials are now reporting 40 deaths due to flu-related illnesses. Of those, 38 individuals had underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma and renal disease. A large majority of the deaths, 33, occurred in individuals older than 65 years and two of the deaths occurred in individuals younger than 18 years.
Officials encourage all Hoosiers 6 months of age or older to get vaccinated to help protect against the flu. A flu shot locator can be found on the Indiana State Department of Health Web site at www.StateHealth.in.gov or by visiting www.Flu.gov.
This season’s vaccine offers protection against the three most common strains of influenza: H3N2, H1N1 and Influenza B. The H3N2 strain appears to be predominant so far in the 2012-13 flu season. The CDC has reported this season’s flu vaccine as being approximately 62 percent effective. Health officials stress that while the flu vaccine does not guarantee immunity, it is still the best protection from the illness.
“While everyone should get their flu vaccine, individuals with underlying medical conditions are clearly at high risk this season and absolutely need to be vaccinated,” said state health Commissioner William VanNess II, M.D. High risk individuals include pregnant women, young children, people with chronic illnesses and/or compromised immune systems and the elderly.
“Flu activity remains high and we simply don’t know if it has peaked yet. Continue to wash your hands often, cover your cough and stay home if you are sick.”
Symptoms of influenza include high fever, headache, fatigue, cough, muscle aches and sore throat. Health officials encourage anyone experiencing these symptoms to contact their health care providers.