The first two flu-related deaths this season have been reported to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Both people were over 65. One was from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department area and the other was from the North Central District Health Department area, which covers Antelope, Boyd, Brown, Cherry, Holt, Keya Paha, Knox, Pierce and Rock Counties.
State health officials say flu activity is slowly increasing across the state. “Flu can be a life-threatening disease for some people and it can make any of us sick. All it takes is getting the flu once and you have a whole new appreciation of its health importance,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist with DHHS. “Flu vaccine is our best protection against the flu and it’s recommended for everyone 6 months and older.”
Certain people are at greater risk for serious complications, and it’s extremely important they receive vaccine:
- Young children
- Adults 65 years of age or older
- Pregnant women
- People with chronic lung disease (like asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurologic conditions and certain other long-term health conditions
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
Vaccination can reduce flu-related illnesses, visits to the doctor, missed work and school and flu-related hospitalizations.
Flu vaccine is safe, effective and rigorously tested. The most common reaction people may experience from a flu shot is soreness and redness at the injection site. After vaccination, it takes about two weeks for the body to build immunity.
In addition to vaccination, here are more tips to help protect yourself from the flu and other winter illnesses:
- Wash your hands often
- Avoid contact with people who are sick
- Stay home from school, work, family gatherings and social functions if you’re sick
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough with a tissue or sleeve, not your hands
- Eat healthy and get plenty of rest
- Don’t smoke