Don’t ignore influenza risk, get a flu shot

Most of us have read or heard about the measles outbreak in Washington state caused by people who don’t take real health risks seriously enough. What a shame, we say.

Yet, something similar is playing out in North Dakota this year regarding the flu.

While the flu season got off to a slow start nationally, the number of confirmed flu cases is trending upward.

Just yesterday two flu updates were issued, one by the state health department, the other by the Association of Mature American Citizens which cited the CDC.

Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens, warns that the flu is “turning out to be a major threat to the nation’s health this year, particularly among America’s oldest and youngest populations.”

Weber cites recent Centers for Disease Control reports that as many as seven million cases of the flu have been reported so far in the 2018-2019 flu season. The CDC says that as many as 84,000 people have already been hospitalized as a result.

The AMAC said a poll of 1,200 people in November showed only 41 percent had been vaccinated, which should be alarming considering the number of people who die from the flu – 80,000 in the U.S. last year.

The flu has been taking its toll in North Dakota already this season, according to the state health department.

For the first time this season, the North Dakota Department of Health is reporting widespread influenza activity and is reminding everyone that it’s not too late to get an influenza vaccine.

“Everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated, regardless of age or health status,” said Jenny Galbraith, Immunization Surveillance Coordinator with the NDDoH. “Anyone can get the flu, including healthy individuals, and getting the flu vaccine is the easiest and safest way to protect yourself, as well as your friends and family.”

There have been 1,810 laboratory-identified cases reported to the NDDoH so far this season – many of them children under 10.

Perhaps that is because only 44 percent of kids in North Dakota age 6 months to 4 years are currently vaccinated.

And yet we shake our heads at the parents in Washington state.