HELENA — St. Peter’s Health in Helena is encouraging people to receive their annual flu shot as influenza continues to circulate in Montana.
The hospital reported its lab-processed nearly two dozen positive flu cases the last week of December. Those are cases local to the tri-county area.
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) reports there have been more than 1,400 confirmed cases of influenza this season.
In light of the presence of the contagious respiratory illness COVID-19, officials find this year to be an especially important time to receive an influenza shot. St. Peter’s says they’ve seen fewer people than normal getting the shot this year.
“We want to prevent people from getting those cases that take them to our urgent cares and our emergency rooms and possibly admitted to the hospitals, and then also you want to protect the people around you," said Practice Administrator for Primary Care and Urgent Care Rhonda Hinrichs. "So, say you have an immunocompromised person around you and you get them sick. Their chance of getting more sick and having to be hospitalized is much greater.”
A 2018 study showed that between 2012 and 2015, adults with a flu vaccine were 82% less likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit for flu-related reasons. During the 2020-2021 flu season Montana reported zero confirmed cases of the flu, out of more than 21,000 lab tests.
You can find details on where to get your flu shot here: https://www.sphealth.org/appointments