Number of flu cases locally not surging as they are elsewhere

By TIM BOULWARE

 

While nationally there’s concern about the high number of flu cases, locally there isn’t the same level of concern — at least, for now.

Shelly Maag, a registered nurse with Lewis and Clark Public Health, details what we are seeing here right now with reported flu cases.

“This year to date, we’re at 104 cases that’s A and B (flu strains) combined,” Maag said. “Last year we were at 133 (cases) to date of A and B combined, so very similar year this year, we had earlier cases this year, but slow, very few, then kind of stopped, then we got more and more around Christmas time.”

Things can still change rapidly this time of year.

“Well I think in general when you talk about peak for the season, this is the time of the year that it
peaks, so yes we have seen an increase since the second and third week of December,” Maag said.

If you have been putting off getting your flu shot, now is the right time to roll up your sleeve.

“Before (peak season) it hits is the optimal time, but right now it’s not too late,” Maag said. “It does take two weeks to work, so you need to get in as soon as possible. Wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick.”

If you can’t go get your flu shot Blue Cross and Blue Shield has a mobile unit that can bring the flu shot to you. Jamey Petersen is Care Van Administrator and Caring Foundation of Montana Director.

“In October, we did nearly three thousand vaccines across Montana in counties from Wibaux to
Beaverhead, Lewis and Clark, just all over the state and we actually in November we gave our 10-
thousandth vaccine since this program started in 2014,” Petersen said. “We’re just kind of raising
awareness and getting some visibility to show people this is a great program.”

Typically Blue Cross will coordinate with county health departments to set up a date for dispensing
these flu shots. For more information, check out their website.