As a measles outbreak continues in Washington, Idaho is coping with flu season. The illness shut down entire school districts in the eastern part of the state earlier this month.
“Widespread” is how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes flu activity in the Gem State. It’s the same status the CDC has designated for 47 other states. So far this season, the flu virus has claimed 18 lives in Idaho.
More than 30 years of health data reveals February is the traditional peak of flu season. At the end of January, Idaho’s flu activity level was low; it jumped to high in the first week of this month and has since declined to moderate.
“I want to point out that it has not peaked yet in Idaho,” Niki Forbing-Orr says. “[Flu season] typically peaks in January or February, but it looks like it may be taking its time this year.”
Forbing-Orr is the spokeswoman for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. She says this flu season is shaping up to be fairly typical in the state. She’s adamant people do all they can to fight germs: cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands and stay home if you are sick. And, Forbing-Orr is reminding residents to get vaccinated.
“No, it’s never too late to get a flu shot, especially when we’re in February here – the end of February,” says Forbing-Orr. “Flu season is going to last a couple more months, so you will get some protection this year and you might even get some protection at the beginning of flu season next year.”
Forbing-Orr says this year’s flu vaccine is fairly well matched against the virus. Last year’s vaccine reduced the risk of the predominant strain of flu in the state by 65 percent.
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