The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reported additional flu-related deaths in the state on Thursday, bringing the total to four so far during the 2018-2019 flu season.
According to the NMDOH, the deaths are all among people older than the age of 50 from Lincoln, Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Mora Counties.
Since the last NMDOH report from Dec. 17 where it reported the first flu death of the season, flu activity has sharply increased and is now widespread in New Mexico.
Nationally, influenza activity is also on the rise.
The NMDOH reports flu season peaks annually between December and February and encourages residents to get their flu shots if they haven’t done so already, especially those most at risk for flu-related complications or live or work with people in those at-risk populations.
“The flu vaccine is the best way for you to protect yourself and your families, especially young children and elderly family members,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Michael Landen. “As influenza infections increase across the state, there is still time to get vaccinated if you haven’t already received flu vaccine this season. This is one of the most important disease interventions you can take advantage of for your health.”
The MNDOH urges everyone six months of age and older to get vaccinated each flu season, especially people part of these following groups:
- Pregnant women (any trimester) and up to two weeks post-partum
- Children younger than 5, especially younger than 2
- People age 65 and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and lung and heart disease, or with immunosuppression
- People living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
- People who care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including health care personnel and caregivers of babies younger than 6 months
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives
- People who are obese
You can receive vaccines at your local pharmacy or with your health care provider. If you need help finding pharmacies in your area you can click here.
The NMDOH’s public health offices statewide offer vaccines for people without health insurance. You can find the nearest office here.
The department wants to remind the public of season flu symptoms. Those include fever, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and muscle aches.
And to prevent getting or spreading the flu remember to wash your hands frequently, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home if you do contract the flu.