HARTFORD, CT — Two people died of influenza last week, state health officials reported Thursday.
According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s flu stats report, the two who died were older than 65. One is from Litchfield County and the other is from Fairfield County.
The state reported these are the first “influenza associated deaths.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not yet reported on “week 45,” of the flu season, the week in which the Connecticut deaths were reported to have occurred, Nov. 3 through Nov. 9. And the CDC noted it does not have death results for the week ending Nov. 2.
To date, a total of 47 people have been hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed flu from August 25 to Nov. 9.
In the 2018-2019 flu season DPH reported 3,506 persons hospitalized with influenza-associated illness in Connecticut, and a total of 88 influenza-associated deaths.
State health officials said residents need to get vaccinated.
“I advise all Connecticut residents to take the proactive step to protect their health during flu season by getting a flu shot,” health commissioner Renee D. Coleman-Mitchell said.
“Flu vaccines are safe and effective, and can either help prevent you from becoming infected by this serious virus, or help lessen your symptoms if you do get sick. Talk to your health care provider, pharmacist or local health department about the easiest way to get a flu shot.”
Health officials said vaccination remains the most effective protection as the flu season can be long, running from October to May, peaking between December and March.
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.
The CDC says anyone over six months should be vaccinated. And, 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.
Check with your doctor or local pharmacy to see if they have the flu vaccine available and to find a flu clinic near you, visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.
Read the full report on this week’s flu activity here.