The Importance of Getting Your Flu Vaccine this Year

Influenza is on the rise and positive cases and hospitalizations are emerging in Dawson County. Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. There are two main types of influenza viruses: Types A and B. The influenza A and B viruses that routinely spread in people are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year. Influenza A (H3N2) is the most frequently reported virus this year.

“Now is the time to get your flu vaccine if you haven’t already,” stated Laureen Murphree, Dawson County Health Department Director, “The vaccine takes two weeks to be effective, so people still could contract the flu during this period.”

Symptoms include fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, possible vomiting, or diarrhea (typically more common in children). The time from when a person is exposed and infected with flu to when symptoms begin is about 2 days but can range from about 1 to 4 days.

Severe symptoms include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath (rapid breathing in children), persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse, seizures, dehydration/not urinating, severe muscle pain, severe weakness or unsteadiness, fever or cough that improve but then return and worsen, worsening chronic medical conditions, fever above 104°F, any fever in children younger than 12 weeks. If these symptoms are present, seek medical attention immediately.

Flu vaccines are available at DCHD, GMC (by appointment at 406-345-8901), and the local grocery stores each year through March. Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death.

To schedule an appointment with a provider for preventative services or regular checkups, please contact GMC at 406-345-8901. For information on disease prevention and vaccinations, please contact DCHD at 406-377-5213.