3 flu cases confirmed in Bernalillo County

By: Stephanie Claytor, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Flu season is officially upon us, with three new cases reported in New Mexico Tuesday. State health officials said three Bernalillo County women have officially been diagnosed with influenza.

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, the women are ages 54, 68 and 77. The two eldest were hospitalized for treatment, but have since been released.

DOH said the first flu case was reported around this same time last year.

“Every year in this country, it’s staggering the number of people who are lost - young and old, healthy, ill - and so we definitely recommend that everyone get a flu shot,” said Dr. Angela Sanchez, Co-Medical Director for Lovelace Medical Group.

The flu vaccine is now available in New Mexico, and the CDC said a recent analysis of flu strains making their way around the U.S. indicates this year's vaccine will be effective.

There was concern over last year's version of the shot. A new strain came out after those vaccines were already produced. That made the vaccines less effective than usual.

"What good research has shown us is that getting the flu shot, even if it's not a perfect match, does decrease the likelihood of you getting severe effects of the flu and also may also shorten the duration of the flu outbreak,” explained Sanchez.

Dr. Sanchez recommends people ages 65 and older get the high-dose flu shot.

"No. 1, they may not make the same antibodies that you need in order to protect yourself from the flu, and No. 2, they're much more likely to suffer from the effects of the flu,” said Dr. Sanchez.

But don't be surprised; it may have more side effects.

"You may see some increase in local sight reaction, some redness, warmth, tenderness, body aches, but because the flu shot itself is a dead virus, it can’t actually cause the flu,” said Sanchez.

Dr. Sanchez said the high-dose version of the shot can be found mostly at doctor's offices.

The health department recommends everyone six months and older get vaccinated. Besides getting the flu shot, the best advice is to wash your hands frequently, and stay home if you feel sick.

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