State Recommends High-Risk Individuals Get Flu Shots Now
Five Adults, Five Children Were Hospitalized with Flu Complications
(Santa Fe) – The New Mexico Health Department advised people today that flu cases are increasing in the state, and it’s not too late to get their flu shot. This is especially important for people who are considered at high risk for developing serious flu complications, such as young children and older adults.
The Department of Health surveys for flu-related hospitalizations in 15 hospitals within six counties: Bernalillo, Santa Fe, Chavez, Luna, Grant and Dona Ana counties. So far this season, two children from Bernalillo County, ages 4 months and 6 months, and three children from Luna County, age 1 ? years, and two 2-year-olds, have been hospitalized with the flu. Five adults from Chavez and Bernalillo counties have been hospitalized as well. All patients have been discharged.
“Last year we did not see this level of flu activity until late February,” said C Mack Sewell, state epidemiologist for the Department of Health. “Now is an excellent time to protect yourself and your vulnerable family members by getting a flu shot.”
The Department reported its first flu case on Dec. 12 in Curry County. The Department receives flu lab results from 56 labs and clinics across New Mexico and in Juarez, Chihuahua. They show flu cases in every region of New Mexico.
New Mexicans should contact their health care providers to receive a flu shot. People who do not have health insurance should call their local public health office to check on flu shot availability. The Department of Health’s public health offices provide vaccinations at no cost to people who cannot get care elsewhere.
To find a flu shot in your area, call New Mexico Nurse Advice Flu Line at 1-866-681-5872 or look up the New Mexico Influenza Vaccine Consortium’s website, www.nmmra.org/nmivc/cliniclist.php.
The following people are at high risk of flu complications or could likely pass the disease to vulnerable individuals:
• Residents of long-term care facilities
• Persons ages 2-64 years with chronic health conditions, such as asthma or other breathing problems, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, muscle or nerve disorders that can lead to breathing or swallowing problems, and children on long-term aspirin therapy.
• Children ages 6 months to 5 years
• Persons ages 50 years and older
• Pregnant women
• Health care workers who provide direct patient care
• Household contacts and caregivers of anyone at increased risk of flu complications
The Department of Health also makes the following recommendations to reduce the spread of flu:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• If possible, stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, preferably using a tissue, then dispose of the tissue immediately.
• Wash your and your children’s hands frequently, especially if sneezing and coughing and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
• Practice good health habits such as getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, eating nutritious food and drinking plenty of fluids.