A Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) official says the most recent influenza season demonstrated the virus is likely back to more normal patterns following the pandemic and is expected to be a threat in the coming months for Wyoming residents.
“We recommend a seasonal flu shot for everyone six months of age and older who hasn’t already received one this fall because these important vaccines reduce and help prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH. “Flu shots are safe and continue to be our most important influenza protection strategy.”
“Wyoming saw an active flu season over the most recent cycle and we would unfortunately expect that to be the case again. We expect influenza, COVID-19 and other familiar respiratory viruses will be present within our state and across the country over the coming months,” Harrist said. “In fact, we are already starting to receive reports of flu in Wyoming.”
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness. Symptoms, which come on suddenly, include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, extreme tiredness and muscle or body aches.
Although most healthy people recover from influenza, they still experience an unpleasant illness that can mean missing work, school or other activities. They may also pass along the virus to other people who may be at high risk for serious complications and illness.
Flu vaccines and updated COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for everyone six months of age and older, and most people may get them at the same time.
Flu vaccines are especially important for those vulnerable populations such as young children; pregnant women; people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease; and people 65 years and older. Healthcare workers and people who may live with, care for, or are in contact with high risk individuals or infants six months of age and under, should also get the flu vaccine.
Harrist explained it takes about two weeks after receiving a flu shot for its protection to fully kick in. “That’s why the best choice is to get your flu shot before people around you are ill,” she said.
Influenza vaccines are available in many locations, including local public health nursing offices, workplaces, doctors’ offices, pharmacies and retail stores and are covered by most insurance plans. In addition, Wyoming’s public vaccine programs, which are available at participating providers, help protect some adults and children from vaccine-preventable diseases, such as influenza, at little to no cost for eligible patients. COVID-19 vaccine doses are available in many of the same locations.
WDH recommends checking on vaccine availability before visiting a specific local office, clinic or pharmacy.
To learn more about flu vaccines in Wyoming, visit immunizewyoming.com or https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/immunization/influenza-flu/.
To find a flu or COVID-19 vaccine, visit vaccines.gov.