The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is encouraging Montanans with asthma and diabetes (ages six months and older) to get vaccinated against influenza.
“Annual influenza vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza and the complications that can be caused by influenza infection,” says Cynthia Grubb RN, CLC of the Pondera County Health Department.
Persons with chronic diseases are at high risk for these complications which include hospitalization and death.
It is especially important for persons with diabetes or asthma to be protected by vaccination. Thousands of Montanans have been diagnosed with asthma or diabetes. Unfortunately, in 2009, less than one-half of adults with asthma and just over half of adult Montanans with diabetes were immunized against influenza.
DPHHS Director Anna Whiting Sorrell stated, “I encourage all Montanans, especially those with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women, and those who might become pregnant during influenza season, to take control of their health and take advantage of available seasonal vaccine.”
Persons with asthma or diabetes are also at high risk for disease caused by pneumococcal bacteria, which can also be a complication of influenza infection.
Therefore, DPHHS recommends vaccination against pneumococcal disease for these persons at least once prior to age sixty-five. “Your physician or health department will advise you about this vaccine,” Whiting Sorrell said.
Getting influenza and pneumococcal vaccines is easy. It is available through your doctor, local health department, tribal health department and even at many retail pharmacies and universities.
For additional information regarding how to protect yourself during influenza season, contact Cynthia Grubb, RN, CLC Public Health Department at 805 Sunset Blvd., Suite 7, (406) 271-3247 or visit www.dphhs.mt.gov/influenza .