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David Morgan
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Flu Activity in New Mexico Higher than National Average

March 6, 2019 - Immunization - Vaccination

Rates of children hospitalized high; still not too late for flu vaccination 

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reports that flu activity remains high across the state with the rate of flu-related hospitalizations in New Mexico being the second highest among states that participate in CDC’s influenza hospitalization tracking.

The rate of hospital admissions among children aged four and younger is particularly high. For the current flu season, New Mexico has a rate of influenza-related hospital admissions for this age group, 3.2 times greater than the other participating states. A high rate of hospitalizations in this age group was also noted during the 2017-2018 season, where New Mexico had a 1.6 times greater rate of hospitalization compared to that of the other participating states. The continued high rate for children ages four and younger over consecutive seasons is cause for public concern.

In addition, the overall rate of laboratory-confirmed flu hospitalizations in New Mexico is nearly double that of the other participating states.

“This says to us that despite an abundance of flu vaccine for children and adults in New Mexico, too many residents are putting the health of themselves and their family at risk by not getting their annual vaccination,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel. “We hope families take seriously the threat that flu can have on their health and get their flu vaccination today. It’s not too late to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

Children ages 4 and younger, and adults 65 years of age and older are both the most vulnerable to both flu and more severe illness or disease. All children and adults should get vaccinated for influenza annually. Flu season typically runs through the end of April, and there can even be sporadic cases into the early summer months.

Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including healthcare provider offices, pharmacies, hospitals, and public health offices, as well in some work sites and schools. The New Mexico Department of Health encourages those with health insurance to contact their healthcare provider or pharmacist about getting a flu vaccine. The department also offers vaccinations for people without insurance or who are otherwise not able to get vaccinated while supplies last. Those with Medicaid or other insurance who go to public health offices are asked to bring their insurance card.

Practicing good hand hygiene (hand washing and/or use of hand sanitizer), covering your mouth when you cough and socially distancing yourself from people who are potentially contagious with flu can help prevent it from spreading.

Additional high-risk groups who should get the annual flu shot include:

  • Pregnant women (any trimester) and up to two weeks post-partum
  • Children younger than 5 years, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and lung or heart disease and those with immunosuppression from medication or disease
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including healthcare personnel and caregivers of babies younger than 6 months
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives
  • People who are extremely obese

For further information, call the New Mexico Department of Health Epidemiology and Response at (505) 827-0006.

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Actividad de Influenza en Nuevo México Más Alta del Nivel Nacional