Flu season has arrived in the Las Vegas valley, and there has already been one death related to the virus.

The Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) reports a senior Clark County resident died from flu-related illness between Oct. 27 and Nov. 2. The SNHD also reports 64 confirmed cases of the illness through the first five weeks of the season, compared to 12 and no deaths at the same time last year.

“It’s going to happen again. Unfortunately, with deaths from flu, it always does,” Dan Heller said. “It’s usually not the flu that causes that death, it’s flu leading to pneumonia or other significant illnesses that hospitalize someone and they just can’t fight through it.”

Heller is the Pharmacy Practice Coordinator for Smith’s Food & Drug Centers. Over at the Rampart and Lake Mead location, he says they’ve been busy administering flu shots.

“Very high numbers on flu vaccines so far,” he said. “By far, it’s the 65 plus population, in protecting themselves.”

Family practice physician Dr. Daliah Wachs is predicting this year to be an active year for the virus.

“We watch what happens in Australia. In Australia, the flu season started earlier, and it also was a little bit more severe, and it was the H3N2 strain. The H3N2 strain is the one that hit us really hard two years ago,” she said.

The strain also may play a role in the efficacy of the shot, according to Wachs.

“We do think that the flu shot is going to be strong, but we don’t think it’s going to be as strong as in other years,” she said. “Because if the H3N2 is going to be the predominant strain, that’s a wiley one, it’s a really shifty one, it could mutate very quickly.”

Nevertheless, she strongly urges people to get the flu shot.

“Let’s say the flu shot, on a good year, is 60% effective, and this year maybe it’ll be 40%, who knows, or 50%. It still protects 40% of the people who take it,” she said. “You don’t know if it’s going to work for you or not, and so, getting the flu shot offers protection. There are so many more benefits than risks.”

Wachs also urges people to consider getting the Pneumonia vaccination, as it is often a complication that can arise from the flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, those who are most susceptible to flu-related illness and complications:

  • Adults 65+
  • Pregnant women
  • Young children
  • People with compromised immune systems

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