First flu-related death of season reported in Indiana


INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) — Indiana health officials are urging Hoosiers to get immunized against influenza after confirming the first flu-related death of the 2021-2022 flu season. No additional information about the patient will be released due to privacy laws.  

Each year, hundreds of Hoosiers become sick from influenza with some cases prove fatal. In the 2020-21 flu season, the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) said seven Hoosiers died after contracting influenza. In the 2019-2020 season, 137 Hoosiers lost their lives to the disease.

“Although influenza deaths last year were some of the lowest we have seen, that is largely due to the COVID-19 mitigation measures most Hoosiers were following, such as staying home and wearing masks,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “The flu remains a very real threat to Hoosiers, and we encourage everyone who is eligible to get a flu shot to help protect themselves and our hospital systems, which are still strained by the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone age six months and older get a flu vaccine each year. IDOH said because infants younger than six months can’t be vaccinated, it’s important that anyone in a household where a young baby lives or visits get a flu shot to protect the child. Healthcare workers also are encouraged to get a flu vaccine to reduce their risk of transmitting illness to their patients.   

“It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body, so the CDC recommends early vaccination. However, the flu vaccine can be administered at any time during the season, which typically runs from October through May,” IDOH said.

Influenza is a viral infection of the respiratory tract. It spreads by respiratory droplets released when infected people cough or sneeze nearby or when people touch surfaces or objects contaminated with those infectious respiratory droplets. IDOH said people can also become infected by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose.   

Although anyone can get the flu, some people are at higher risk of flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, hospitalization and death. Those most at risk include pregnant women, young children (especially those too young to get vaccinated), people with chronic illnesses, people who are immunocompromised and the elderly. It is especially important for these individuals to be vaccinated each year.  

Common signs and symptoms of the flu include: 

  • fever of 100° Fahrenheit or greater
  • headache 
  • fatigue
  • cough
  • muscle aches
  • sore throat 
  • runny or stuffy nose

People can help prevent the spread of flu by washing their hands frequently and thoroughly, avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth with their hands and staying home when sick. IDOH is encouraging Hoosiers to practice the “Three Cs” to help prevent the spread of flu and other infectious diseases: 

  • Clean: Properly wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water.
  • Cover: Cover your cough and sneeze into your arm or a disposable tissue.
  • Contain: Stay home from school or work when you are sick to keep your germs from spreading. 

Influenza vaccines are available Tuesday-Saturday at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic held across from Gate 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway through Oct. 30. To find additional locations by ZIP code, visit

To learn more about influenza or to view the IDOH weekly flu report, which is updated here each Friday.

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