Five New Mexicans have died so far this year from flu related illnesses, ranging in age from 29 to 92. The announcement from the state Department of Health comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning of epidemic levels of flu activity nationally.
Last flu season there were about 250 flu-related deaths in New Mexico and state officials are estimating there will be even more deaths this season. That’s because the H3N2 flu strain that’s dominant this year tends to cause more severe illness.
This year’s vaccine is not a perfect match for the current flu strain. Still health officials are urging residents to get vaccinated.
“If anybody is holding out from getting vaccinated this year because they heard that the vaccine isn’t a perfect match, that is a mistake,” said State Epidemiologist Michael Landen. “People should get vaccinated regardless of that.”
Landen says the current vaccine can still make a person 45 percent less likely to contract the flu.