The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has confirmed two cases of influenza in Gallatin County. Flu season typically lasts until May and will sicken as many as 200,000 Montanans during a severe season. Chief of the Communicable Disease Bureau, Jim Murphy, says these confirmed cases serve as a reminder of the importance of getting your flu shot. December 4th -10th is National Influenza Vaccination Week. Murphy says it is not too late to get vaccinated and they are available at doctors' offices, county or tribal health departments, and many pharmacies. (That interview is attached below)

Vaccination remains the cornerstone of preventing influenza. Influenza can spread rapidly as people begin to travel throughout the holiday season. Individuals who are ill can unknowingly expose vulnerable individuals to the influenza virus.

While some people suffer minor complications from influenza infection, the elderly, infants, and those with underlying chronic health conditions can experience complications that can lead to hospitalization and even death. DPHHS recommends that an annual flu vaccination for everyone except babies younger than 6 months and those with unusual allergies and medical conditions.

This year's flu vaccine protects against the three virus strains likely to be most common during the upcoming season and includes the same virus strains used for the 2010-2011 influenza season.