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Flu Case Confirmed In N.M.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s official: Influenza season is here, but it’s not too late to get that flu shot.

Health officials said Thursday that a McKinley County child has the state’s first lab-confirmed case of flu of the 2011-12 season.

Flu vaccine began arriving in New Mexico by mid-August and supplies remain plentiful, said Jane Cotner, manager of the Department of Health’s immunization program.

How to get a flu shot
Call your regular health care provider and ask if flu vaccine is available. If not, call a local public health office or the New Mexico Vaccine and Flu Hotline at 1-866-681-5872. To find a public health office near you, visit www.health.state.nm.us and click “Find A Clinic.”
Major retailers such as Walgreens, Walmart and Target also offer flu vaccines, and most accept insurance and Medicare.

The 2011 flu vaccine targets the same three strains as last year’s vaccine. But people still need an annual vaccination, even if you got one last year, Cotner said.

“Yearly immunity declines over time,” Cotner said. “An annual vaccination is recommended for optimal protection.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year.

“Since the influenza season usually peaks between December and February in New Mexico, it is not too late to get vaccinated against the flu,” state Health Secretary Dr. Catherine Torres said in a written statement.

Vaccine manufacturers have projected that they will make a record number of at least 166 million doses this year.

The Health Department has ordered 277,000 pediatric doses that will be offered free at 480 clinics statewide, including the state’s public health offices. More than 90 percent of those doses have arrived in New Mexico, Cotner said. The agency also ordered 70,000 adult doses available at public health offices to uninsured adults and people at high-risk for serious illness.

At least 12 New Mexicans, including one child, died of laboratory-confirmed flu during the 2010-11 flu season.

People at greatest risk of serious complications include those 65 and older, pregnant women, children 4 years and younger and American Indians.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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