DOH NEWS RELEASE
The New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) announces the start of the 2022-2023 flu season as positive flu tests are being reported around the state by clinical laboratories and outpatient facilities.
Flu activity is on the rise throughout the U.S., particularly in the east and southeast parts of the country where flu-like illness is above average compared to prior years.
“A triple threat of respiratory illnesses this year is very concerning because all are very contagious,” said David R. Scrase M.D, acting DOH cabinet secretary. “We’re seeing three things nationally: a rise in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), particularly among infants, a rise of influenza cases and the continuation of COVID-19. It is more important than ever that New Mexicans get their annual flu shot and are up-to-date with their COVID-19 boosters.”
“I know hearing so much about the importance of vaccination against COVID-19 has led to some message fatigue, but the truth is vaccinations really do make a difference.,” said DOH deputy secretary Laura Parajon M.D. “The latest flu and COVID shots won’t guarantee that you won’t get sick, but the shots can reduce the severity of symptoms and increase chances of keeping people out of the hospital.”
Reducing the strain on the staff of our hospitals statewide and the health care system nationwide is very important. Any decrease in hospitalizations is welcome news to those on the front lines treating patients.
The New Mexico DOH recommends that everyone six months of age and older get the annual 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 DOH encourages people with health insurance to contact their health care provider or pharmacist about getting a flu vaccine. DOH 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 also find locations to get your flu shot with the following resources:
- Vaccines.gov -including New Mexico and nationwide
- Vaccines for Children providers in New Mexico
- Vaccines for New Mexico adults without insurance
More information about flu and flu vaccines is available on the New Mexico Department of Health influenza webpage at: http://nmhealth.org/about/phd/idb/imp/fluv/.