Two Brevard Deaths So Far During Brutal Flu Season
By Dr. James Palermo // January 10, 2015
PROTECT YOU & YOUR FAMILY, GET VACCINATED
ABOVE VIDEO: This is a moving video produced by the CDC demonstrating how flu vaccination can protect your family from sickness, hospitalization and death.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA — The Florida Department of Health in Brevard County (DOH-Brevard) reported a second death last week from complications of influenza this flu season.
The first death was a 45-year-old female, who died Monday. Officials said that she was obese, one of the risk factors that increases the chances for complications and makes the flu potentially deadly.
The second, a 72-year-old man from Titusville with heart disease and other medical issues, had not been vaccinated this season for the flu.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of these flu victims,” said DOH-Brevard Health Director Heidar Heshmati.
“I encourage anyone who has not received the influenza vaccine to get their vaccination.”
FLU AT EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS IN 43 STATES
Florida is one of 43 states reporting widespread influenza so far this season.
Levels of transmission have reached epidemic proportions, according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Officials say that a mutation in the flu virus may be to blame for the rising number of flu cases this year.
According to the CDC, flu seasons can be very unpredictable, and it is not unusual for changes in the virus to occur. However, despite the changes in the virus this season, getting vaccinated is still the best way to prevent contracting the virus.
Some people are at high risk for serious flu complications, including young children, older people, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions. Flu vaccination and the correct use of influenza antiviral medications is very important for those people.
IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO GET VACCINATED
The Florida Department of Health in Brevard County recommends that all individuals six months of age and older receive the flu vaccination each year.
“The flu vaccine is safe and continues to be the best way to protect yourself and others from the flu. It is important for those who have not been vaccinated for influenza to do so as soon as possible. Most of our reported influenzas are Influenza A, which is covered in the vaccine. It is not too late to get your flu shot,” said Dr. Heshmadi.
It is especially important for pregnant women to be vaccinated due to the increased risk of complications associated with contracting the flu while pregnant. The flu vaccination is safe and will protect the mother, the unborn child and will also help protect babies during the first months after birth.
Twenty-one children have lost their lives to the flu since the beginning of this flu season. Three of them were in Florida, including an 11-year-old boy in Bradenton who died last month after experiencing complications related to the disease.
The other children died in late November, in Orange and Pasco Counties, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Influenza vaccinations are readily available and inexpensive, and insurance will cover them. Even without insurance, they are inexpensive to get at a pharmacy or local health department.
Also, state health officials recently announced that Medicaid will temporarily pay for flu shots for pregnant patients over the age of 21 through the end of March.
KNOW HOW TO MANAGE THE FLU TO PREVENT SPREAD
It is especially important that people who do become infected with the influenza virus stay home when they are sick, and parents keep sick children at home to prevent spreading the flu.
Symptoms of the flu include headache, fever, severe cough, runny nose or body aches.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your primary care provider immediately for guidance on treatment. Early treatment with antivirals is important and can help people get better more quickly as well as help to prevent severe complications.