The flu is nasty. It's something we've all taken for granted because of some other thing out there. What was that? Oh, yeah. COVID. Plus, there has not been a confirmed flu case in Montana in over a year. Well, it's back.

The Flathead City-County Health Department notified our state Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) that a child in Flathead County is the first person with a confirmed case of the flu since April of 2020, a year and a half ago.

This could be the beginning of a long flu season, which officials say could last until May of 2022. So, get your flu shot. In fact, you can get the flu shot at the same time you get a COVID-19 booster shot. You simply have two bandaids on your arm after your visit.

A reminder from the DPHHS - it takes about two weeks for the immune system to develop protection after your shot. The 2019-2020 season saw over 11,000 infections and over 500 went to the hospital. Now, with the crowded hospitals due to COVID, you don't want to take the chance of needing help because of the flu.

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Flu causes coughing and sneezing, but early on you get chills, headaches, exhaustion, sore throat, cough, body aches and even some vomiting. Not any fun at all.

Jon Ebelt, DPHHS Public Information Officer, had the usual precautions:

  • Have a fever - stay home. In fact, stay home for 24 hours after the fever breaks. You can still spread the flu bug.
  • Cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue.
  • Wash your hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, especially in public places.
  • Stay away from sick people. That's self-explanatory.
  • You might have noticed some of these precautions are similar to the COVID restrictions. The symptoms are similar. If you're unsure, your health provider is able to tell the differences between the flu and any other respiratory illness. There is a separate flu website at the DPHHS.

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