Health officials urging flu vaccines in October

HELENA (AP) — State and local health officials are encouraging all Montanans six months of age and older to get vaccinated against influenza this month.

While the flu season usually peaks in February, the Department of Public Health and Human Services recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October in order to decrease the risk of becoming ill.

The influenza vaccine provides protection through the entire season, which typically lasts through May.

The very young, people over 65 and those with chronic medical conditions are at a higher risk of complications.

Last winter, Montana recorded over 10,000 cases of influenza, nearly 1,000 hospitalizations and 79 deaths. The health department says half of those hospitalized had not received a vaccine.

Montana has already identified cases of influenza in several counties including Big Horn, Gallatin and Lewis and Clark.