Indiana health officials announce first flu-related death this season

Flu Vaccine’s Effectiveness

INDIANAPOLIS— The Indiana State Health Department reported the first flu-associated death in Indiana this season. The patient was under the age 18.

State health officials report flu activity is increasing in some areas of the state, with outbreaks being reported at some long-term care facilities.

“Unfortunately, we are already seeing some heartbreaking consequences of the flu in Indiana,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “With influenza activity on the rise, I encourage anyone who hasn’t gotten a flu shot to get one to help protect themselves and their loved ones.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year. Dr. Box said that because infants under 6 months can’t be vaccinated, it’s important that anyone in a household where a young baby lives or visits get a flu shot to protect the child.

Healthcare workers also are urged to get a flu vaccine to reduce their risk of transmitting illness to their patients.

Flu season in Indiana historically runs from January through March, but the virus is present year round and can have a severe effect on the very young and the elderly.

Although anyone can get the flu, some people are at higher risk of flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, hospitalization and death. High-risk individuals include pregnant women, young children (especially those too young to get vaccinated), people with chronic illnesses, people who are immunocompromised and the elderly.

Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:

  • fever of 100° Fahrenheit or greater
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • cough
  • muscle aches
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose

The virus ramps up in the winter months because it can survive longer in colder air and because people gather together indoors more often.

Health officials say Hoosiers should practice the “Three Cs” to help prevent the spread of flu and other infectious diseases:

  • Clean: Properly wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water.
  • Cover: Cover your cough and sneeze into your arm or a disposable tissue.
  • Contain: Stay home from school or work when you are sick to keep your germs from spreading.