The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is reminding New Mexicans that it’s not too late to get vaccinated against the flu. Influenza activity is increasing across New Mexico and the number of flu cases is expected to rise in coming weeks.
Information to date shows that this season’s vaccine is a strong match to protect against the types of flu currently circulating in the United States, including New Mexico. Even as the peak of flu season nears, there are still several months to go and the predominant virus circulating can change. The flu vaccine protects against multiple strains of flu, and people can get infected with more than one type of flu during the season. As long as flu viruses are circulating, individuals who have not been vaccinated should receive a vaccine, even in January or later.
People in high risk groups and those who live with or care for high risk individuals, who are at increased risk of flu-related complications such as hospitalization and death, are especially encouraged to get vaccinated against the flu. People in these groups should also consider seeing their healthcare provider to be evaluated for antiviral medications if they develop flu symptoms. Flu symptoms may include rapid illness onset with fever, cough, sore throat, headache, and/or muscle aches. Antiviral medications can lessen the severity of the symptoms and potential bad outcomes including hospitalization and even death, and help high-risk patients recover sooner.
Influenza vaccination is highly recommended for several groups, including people age 65 years and older; people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and lung or heart disease and those with immunosuppression from medication or disease; 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.
NMDOH also recommends that you ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you need the pneumococcal vaccine which can be given at the same time as flu vaccine. Influenza frequently causes types of pneumonia that can be prevented by the pneumococcal vaccine. The department offers vaccinations for people without insurance or who are otherwise not able to get vaccinated. Those with Medicaid or other insurance who go to public health offices are asked to bring their insurance card.