UPDATE: Flu Kills Two Idaho Women, Renewing Call for Vaccination

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UPDATE: October 9, 2014 5 p.m.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare confirmed that a second woman, from Ada County, has died from flu-related illness, the second such death this season.


ORIGINAL POST: October 9, 2014  9 a.m.

With so much media coverage swirling around Ebola and Enterovirus, a somber report from north Idaho on Wednesday is a reminder that a more common threat, the flu, is also deadly and a greater threat to Idaho.

Kootenai County reported the season's first flu-related death—a 65-year-old woman. The elderly and infants are especially at risk for complications associated with the flu, which infects nearly 20 percent of the population and triggers more than 200,000 hospitalizations across the country each year.

Boise Weekly has chronicled how Idaho repeatedly gets poor marks for its low vaccination rates. In 2011, BW examined what we called an "epidemic of fear," chronicling an organization, headquartered in Idaho's panhandle, called Vaccination Liberation, which pushes back against immunizations, in spite of what health officials called "a disturbing trend" in northern Idaho of low vaccination rates among school children.

Our story unleashed hundreds of critical online posts, almost all of them from supporters of Vaccination Liberation.

But the debate is expected to be rejoined with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's renewed call for vaccination against the flu. IDHW says the best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu is to get a flu vaccine by shot or nasal spray. According to the department, "If you get the flu vaccine, you are 60% less likely to need treatment for the flu by a healthcare provider. Getting the vaccine has been shown to offer substantial other benefits including reducing illness, antibiotic use, time lost from work, hospitalizations, and deaths."