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Secretary of Health Catherine Torres, MD, said Monday that there have been 12 influenza-related deaths so far this flu season and is encouraging all New Mexicans to get vaccinated against the disease.
The deaths occurred in Bernalillo, Chaves, Dona Ana, Eddy, Luna, Taos and Valencia Counties. Eleven of the deaths occurred among adults aged 22 to 54 years and one death was a child.
“We want to express our sympathies to the families who are dealing with the loss of loved ones due to the flu,” Torres said. “Getting vaccinated against the flu every year is the best protection we have to prevent the disease, which can lead to serious illness and even death. I encourage everyone, especially those who are at higher risk from developing serious complications to get a flu shot as soon as possible.”
It is important that people in the following groups get vaccinated, either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications:
• Pregnant women (any trimester)
• Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
• People age 65 and older
• People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and lung or heart disease
• People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
• People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including health care workers and caregivers of babies younger than 6 months
• American Indians and Alaskan Natives
• People who are morbidly obese
A November 2010 survey conducted in 20 sites around the country, including four New Mexico counties (Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe and Valencia) found that only 38 percent of adults and 36 percent of children 6 months through 17 years of age had received an influenza vaccination.