Indiana health officials are encouraging Hoosiers to get vaccinated against influenza after confirming the first flu-related death of the 2022-23 flu season. No additional information about the patient will be released due to privacy laws.
Each year, hundreds of Hoosiers become sick from influenza, and some cases prove fatal. In the 2021-22 flu season, 82 Hoosiers died after contracting influenza.
“Every flu season is different, but we expect to see a return of respiratory illnesses such as flu as more individuals relax the mitigation measures they took during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “Getting an annual flu shot now, before activity picks up, is the best protection against what can be a serious illness for many Hoosiers.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone age 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year. Because infants younger than 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 are urged to get a flu vaccine to reduce their risk of transmitting illness to their patients.
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies, which protect against flu, to develop in the body, so the CDC recommends early vaccination. However, the flu vaccine can be administered at any time during the season, which typically runs from October through May. This year’s flu vaccine appears to be a good match for the most common subtype circulating in Australia, and it can be administered 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 those infectious respiratory droplets. People also can become infected by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with flu viruses and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose.
Although anyone can get the flu, some people are at higher risk of flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, hospitalization, and death. Those most at risk for complications from flu include pregnant women, young children (especially those too young to get vaccinated), people with chronic illnesses, people who are immunocompromised, and the elderly. It is especially important for these individuals to be vaccinated each year.
Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:
- fever of 100° Fahrenheit or greater
- muscle aches
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
People can help prevent the spread of flu by washing their hands frequently and thoroughly, avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth with their hands, and staying home when sick. 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 with your arm or a disposable tissue.
- Contain: Stay home from school or work when you are sick to keep your germs from spreading.
To learn more about influenza or to view the IDOH weekly flu report, which is updated each Friday, click here. IDOH also has an influenza dashboard that is updated each Friday with the weekly flu report. The dashboard showcases Indiana’s flu surveillance activity on a weekly basis. Historical flu surveillance data, along with county- and regional-level data, are available, along with breakdowns by age group for the current week.