State health department reports first flu death of season

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana health officials are encouraging Hoosiers to get their flu shot after confirming the first flu-related death of the 2022-23 flu season. No additional patient information will be released due to privacy laws.

Each year, hundreds of Hoosiers fall ill with the flu, and some cases prove fatal. During the 2021-22 flu season, 82 Hoosiers died after contracting the flu.

“Each flu season is different, but we expect to see a return of respiratory illnesses such as influenza as more people ease the mitigation measures they took at the height of the pandemic. COVID-19,” said state health commissioner Kris Box, MD, FACOG. . “Getting the flu shot every year now, before activity resumes, is the best protection against what can be a serious illness for many Hoosiers.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone 6 months and older get the flu shot every year. Since infants under 6 months cannot be vaccinated, it is important that anyone in a household where a young baby lives or visits gets the flu shot to protect the child. Healthcare workers are urged to get the flu shot to reduce their risk of transmitting the disease to their patients.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the antibodies, which protect against the flu, to develop in the body, which is why the CDC recommends early vaccination. However, the flu vaccine can be given at any time during the season, which generally runs from October to May. This year’s flu vaccine appears to be a good match for the most common subtype circulating in Australia, 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.

Influenza (flu) is a viral infection of the respiratory tract. It is spread by 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.

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

Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:

  • fever of 100° Fahrenheit or higher
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • cough
  • muscle aches
  • 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 they are sick. Hoosiers should practice the “Three Cs” to help prevent the spread of influenza and other infectious diseases:

  • To clean: Wash your hands properly and frequently with warm soapy water.
  • Cover: Cover your cough and sneeze with your arm or a disposable tissue.
  • Contain: When you are sick, avoid school or work from home to prevent your germs from spreading.

To learn more about the flu or to view IDOH’s weekly flu report, which is updated every Friday, click here. IDOH also has a flu dashboard which is updated every Friday with the weekly flu report. The dashboard shows Indiana’s flu surveillance activity on a weekly basis. Historical flu surveillance data, as well as county and regional level data, is available, along with breakdowns by age group for the current week.

Visit the Indiana Department of Health at www.Health.in.gov for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/StateHealthIN.