A Blaine-County man older than 60 years of age and a woman older than 80 years of age from Twin Falls County have been reported as the first influenza-related deaths of the 2020-21 season. Both were also infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
“The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is reminding Idahoans that both infections can be serious and there is concern that co-circulation and co-infection with influenza and COVID-19 viruses could be especially harmful, particularly among adults already at increased risk of influenza-related complications,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, the Idaho influenza surveillance coordinator. “I encourage everyone to get their annual flu vaccine as soon as possible to reduce the chance of getting the flu. This is extremely important this season.”
On average, 41 influenza-related deaths occur each year in Idaho; mostly among people older than 50.
Influenza is a contagious virus that causes respiratory illness in 5 to 20 percent of the population every year. Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, or fatigue. Although most people who get the flu recover after a few days, some people may develop serious complications, leading to hospitalization and even death.
Influenza can be prevented. The most important action to take is to get your annual influenza vaccine now. The flu vaccine does not prevent COVID-19, does not cause a person to test positive for COVID-19, and does not make people susceptible to COVID-19.
Everyone over six months of age should get an annual influenza vaccine. Getting the flu vaccine every year is especially important for people more at-risk for serious flu-related complications, including those with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, young children, and anyone 65 years of age or older. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to determine which flu vaccine is best for you.
Dr. Tengelsen advises people to take precautions to limit the spread of respiratory viruses, including influenza and the virus that causes COVID-19:
- Wear a mask and physically distance yourself whenever you are in public.
- Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer frequently.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth until you have washed your hands.
- Stay home from work or school when sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Avoid people who appear sick.
For more information on seasonal flu and flu vaccines, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/misconceptions.htm
For more information on COVID-19, please visit https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/