HARTFORD— The Connecticut Department of Public Health is reported first with the FOX61 that there are two influenza deaths being reported for the beginning of the 2019-2020 flu season.
The deaths were reported last week and involved a resident of Litchfield County and a resident of Fairfield county, both of whom were over 65 years old.
To date, a total of 47 hospitalized patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza admitted between August 25 and November 9, 2019 have been reported to DPH. Of these, 38 were associated with type A (subtype unspecified), two with Influenza A (H1N1), four with Influenza A (H3N2), and 3 with Influenza B viruses.
The flu can cause serious health problems, especially for those with chronic health conditions such as asthma, the elderly, and infants who are too young to be immunized. In the 2018-2019 flu season DPH reported 3,506 people hospitalized with flu-associated illness in Connecticut and a total of 88 deaths related to the flu.
Officials with the World Health Organization, who help to organize the flu shots every year, are watching the northern hemisphere after the Australian government reported a severe flu season. According to officials this can be a determining factor on what type of influenza shot needs to be distributed.
Experts in the state say it’s still too early to tell how things will play out.
“So every year they determine what is really what is the best strains to put in the vaccine for the northern hemisphere and hopefully will get a good match from that and we won’t really know until January when they look at the vaccine effectiveness,” explained Mick Buldoc
Residents from Cromwell and Rocky Hill both say this is a reminder to get the flu shot.
Others say differently, Jim Bealer of Rocky Hill said, “I’ve had one flu vaccination in my 30s and I had the flu once in my late teens and early 30s, and that’s it and knock on wood I’ve been good.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages all people over the age of six months old to be vaccinated. Vaccines are encouraged for high-risk groups, including children from 6 months to 18 years of age, women who will be pregnant during the flu season, people at least 50 years old, anyone with certain chronic medical conditions and people who live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
It is recommended the people 65 years and older get a flu shot instead of a nasal spray vaccine. The nasal spray vaccine is only approved for use in non-pregnant individuals between the ages of 2-49 and is not effective for anyone over the age of 50. They can get any flu vaccine approved for use in that age group with no preference for any one vaccine over another.
There are regular flu shots that are approved for use in people 65 years and older and there also are two vaccines designed specifically for people 65 years and older.
To get vaccinated for the flu check with your regular heath care provider or pharmacy to see if they have the flu vaccine available. To find a flu clinic near you, visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder by clicking here.
For more information on influenza and vaccination, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
DPH posts a weekly flu update on the Influenza Surveillance and Statistics webpage.