DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH NEWS RELEASE
The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) has announced the start of the 2021-2022 influenza (flu) season. The NMDOH Scientific Laboratory Division (SLD) has confirmed influenza (flu) infections among several individuals in the state. In addition, an increasing number of positive influenza tests are being reported from around the state by clinical laboratories and outpatient facilities each week. Health care visits for respiratory illness and outbreaks are expected to increase in the coming weeks and months, although the timing of the peak of the flu season cannot be predicted.
Influenza (flu) activity is on the rise throughout the US as well, with approximately 80% of positive results reported to CDC detected in children and young adults.
Getting vaccinated against flu can reduce the severity of illness, prevent hospitalization and death, and prevent serious complications from a flu infection. Early data suggests that flu vaccine uptake may be lower this year compared to last year. Due to minimal flu activity since March 2020, there may be more people, both children and adults, who have less immunity against flu than during previous seasons because they weren’t exposed to flu last year. This could lead to widespread flu infections with more serious illnesses that could result in more hospitalizations and deaths. This could also place additional stress on New Mexico hospitals this winter. The best way to prevent the flu, is to get your flu vaccination.
“December is a great time to get your influenza vaccination, but you can get your vaccination through the end of flu season” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary David Scrase. “Flu vaccination is the best way to protect you, your family, and the most vulnerable community members from flu and its complications.”
NMDOH recommends that everyone six months of age and older get flu vaccine each flu season. You can get the COVID-19 vaccine and an influenza vaccine at the same time.
Flu vaccination has many benefits:
Flu vaccination reduces flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Flu vaccination has been shown to make illness milder in people who get vaccinated and still get sick.
Flu vaccination can protect pregnant people from flu and protect their babies from flu for several months after birth.
Flu vaccination has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease.
Flu vaccination also has been shown in separate studies to be associated with reduced hospitalizations related to diabetes and chronic lung disease.
Flu vaccination reduces the burden of flu on health care systems.
The following groups of people are strongly recommended to be vaccinated because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications, or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications:
Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
Children aged 6 months through 8 years who have never been vaccinated against influenza, or have an unknown vaccination history, should receive two doses of influenza vaccine, administered at least 4 weeks apart
Pregnant women (all trimesters), and up to two weeks post-partum
People ages 65 years and older
People of any age with medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, lung or heart disease, and those who are immunocompromised
People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including healthcare personnel and caregivers of babies younger than six months
American Indians and Alaskan Natives
The NMDOH encourages individuals with health insurance to contact their health care provider or pharmacist about getting a flu vaccine. NMDOH offers vaccinations for people without insurance or those who are otherwise not able to get vaccinated. Please bring your insurance or Medicaid care if visiting a Public Health Office.
You can find a location to get your flu shot with the following resources:
· Vaccines.gov – Search for flu vaccine locations
· Vaccines for Children providers in NM